Taking drugs during pregnancy: How safe are the unsafe?

G. Koren, L. Schuler

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

7 Scopus citations


QUESTION: I prescribed misoprostol to one of my patients with a peptic ulcer. When she found out she was pregnant while on the drug, both she and, admittedly, I were very scared to learn that the drug is teratogenic in that it causes Möbius syndrome. How great is the risk? ANSWER: Very small. Although women who use misoprostol during the first trimester have a 30-fold higher risk of having babies with Möbius syndrome, the malformation is so rare that, even if you see 1000 women who took misoprostol during embryogenesis, you might not see a single child with the syndrome. It is crucial to explain the size of the risk; otherwise women tend to believe the risk is huge even when, in fact, it is hardly measurable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951+953
JournalCanadian Family Physician
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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