HealthDay News — Prescription medications are commonly dispensed to pregnant women enrolled in the U.S. Medicaid program, according to research published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Kristin Palmsten, ScD, of the University of California in San Diego, and colleagues examined patterns for prescription drugs dispensed from 2000 to 2007 among a cohort of 1,106,757 pregnant women enrolled in the U.S. Medicaid program.

The researchers found that during pregnancy, 82.5% of the women received one or more prescription medications, including at least one dispensing of a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration category D or X medication (excluding fertility treatments) in 42.0%. The medications most commonly dispensed included nitrofurantoin (21.6%), metronidazole (19.4%), amoxicillin (18.0%), azithromycin (16.9%), and promethazine (13.5%). Certain medications were dispensed at a higher rate among women younger than 20 years than among those aged 35 years or older, such as nitrofurantoin (23.9% versus 15.4%; prevalence ratio [PR], 1.55), metronidazole (20.7% versus 12.0%; PR, 1.73), and azithromycin (21.1% versus 11.0%; PR, 1.93). Dispensing rates were highest among white women for most drugs, but metronidazole was dispensed at a higher rate among black women compared with white women (29.8% versus 14.4%; PR, 2.07). The most commonly dispensed D medications were codeine (11.9%) and hydrocodone (10.2%).

“The characterization of prescription medication use among pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid augments our knowledge of medication use during pregnancy by providing information from low-income women,” the authors write.

Several authors work in a department that receives training grants from pharmaceutical companies.


  1. Palmsten K et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2015; doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000982.