BackgroundWomen with unplanned pregnancies use folic acid less frequently, and more often use potentially teratogenic medications in the first trimester. Yet most studies based on routinely collected data lack information on pregnancy planning. Further, only pregnancies proceeding beyond a certain gestational age appear in routinely collected data, creating the possibility for collider-stratification bias. If pregnancy intention could be identified, pregnancies could be ascertained earlier. This study aimed to investigate fertility treatment and discontinuation of oral contraception (OC) as proxies for pregnancy planning by describing variations in patterns of prescription fills for antibiotics and analgesics during the peri-pregnancy period by these proxies of pregnancy intention.
MethodsFertility treatment with clomiphene and discontinuation of OC were identified in the Norwegian Prescription Database (NorPD) and linked with data from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway for the years 2006 to 2017. Filled prescriptions for antibiotics and analgesics from NorPD were displayed for women on fertility treatment, women who discontinued OC before pregnancy, and women who discontinued during pregnancy.
ResultsOf 172,585 included pregnancies, fertility treatment was identified in 19,449, and OC discontinuation before or during pregnancy in 153,136. Women who discontinued OC during pregnancy were less likely to use preconception folic acid (25.4%) than women who discontinued before pregnancy (32.9%), and women on fertility treatment (51.0%). Proportions of first trimester prescription fills were 4.9% (analgesics) and 12.8% (antibiotics) for women who discontinued OC during pregnancy, compared to 4.0 and 11.4% in women who discontinued OC before pregnancy, and 4.7 and 11.0% in women on fertility treatment.
ConclusionsThere were no substantial differences in patterns of prescription fills for analgesics and antibiotics before or during pregnancy by fertility treatment and OC discontinuation. This suggests that there were few differences in medication use between women with planned and unplanned pregnancies, or that fertility treatment and timing of OC discontinuation from routinely collected health data cannot stand alone in the identification of unplanned pregnancies. A narrower definition of OC discontinuation during pregnancy seemed to be a better proxy, but this should be confirmed in other studies.
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