New funding granted for research of pregnancy drugs

There's good news for moms-to-be who are concerned about the use of prescription drugs during their pregnancies. The University of Washington School of Pharmacy and the University of Washington School of Medicine has been granted $4.7 million in funding to study the effects of drug use during pregnancy by the National Institutes of Health.

Jashvant Unadkat, professor of pharmaceutics, will be the lead researcher during this multi-part, five-year grant from the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. The grant will allow him to work with researchers from the UW departments of pharmaceutics, pharmacy, and obstetrics and gynecology. Studies will include three separate but related projects, though each will look at the disposition of different drug types on both pregnant women and the fetuses. The study will include both prescribed and illicit drug use. Researchers will look specifically at the use of amphetamines and other illegal drugs, methadone (as a drug abuse treatment), as well as the prescription antidepressant bupropion.

According to the March of Dimes, only about 4 percent of pregnant women engage in illicit drug use. While these drugs are harmful enough to users on their own, they can pose significant risks to healthy baby development when taken by pregnant women. Patients who engage in illicit drug use can get help as well as counseling from medical professionals in order to decrease these risks.

Proponents of the UW study hope to have a more thorough knowledge of potential risks at the conclusion of the research. In the meantime, pregnant women should work with their obstetricians to determine the safest course of treatment during this delicate time.

Do you believe that this research will help pregnant mothers? Tell us your opinion in the comments section.