Use of herbal treatments in pregnancy

UMMS Affiliation

Center for Integrated Primary Care; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Behavioral Medicine | Female Urogenital Diseases and Pregnancy Complications | Health Psychology | Integrative Medicine | Maternal and Child Health | Obstetrics and Gynecology


OBJECTIVE: Interest in herbal treatments has increased without data on safety, efficacy, or rates of use in pregnancy. We examined antenatal herbal and natural product use among mothers of nonmalformed infants in 5 geographic centers.

STUDY DESIGN: We used data on nonmalformed infants from the Slone Epidemiology Center's case-control surveillance program for birth defects to examine rates and predictors of herbal use. Exposures were identified through maternal interview. In addition to overall use, 5 categories based on traditional uses and 2 natural product categories were created; topical products and herbal-containing multivitamins were excluded.

RESULTS: Among 4866 mothers of nonmalformed infants, 282 (5.8%) reported use of herbal or natural treatments. Use varied by study center and increased with increasing age.

CONCLUSION: Although rates of use are low, there remains a need for investigation of the safety of these products. Given sparse data on efficacy, even small risks might well outweigh benefits.

DOI of Published Version



Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010 May;202(5):439.e1-439.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2010.01.055. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American journal of obstetrics and gynecology


At the time of publication, Paula Gardiner was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID