Balancing act: Safe and evidence-based prescribing for women of reproductive age

Lydia E. Pace, Eleanor Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Teratogenic medications are commonly prescribed to women of reproductive age. Caring for women who may benefit from the use of teratogenic medications requires clinicians to engage patients in shared decision-making on the risks and benefits of medication use in the context of the patients fertility goals, the implications of the patients medical condition for a pregnancy and the risks and benefits of various contraceptive methods. Effective communication about all of these issues is essential to avoiding medication-induced birth defects. However, data suggest that such communication remains inadequate, leading some women to face unintentional exposure of a pregnancy to a teratogen, undesired pregnancy or, sometimes, the need for pregnancy termination services. This review outlines key information needed to ensure safe prescribing to women of childbearing age. It includes recommendations for changes in medical education, healthcare delivery and health policy to facilitate thoughtful prescribing and comprehensive care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-425
Number of pages11
JournalWomen's Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • birth defects
  • contraception
  • contraceptive counseling
  • preconception care
  • pregnancy
  • teratogenic medications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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