76% of pregnant women use the internet for medication info

Accessing medical information over the internet can be helpful to quickly gain tips in keeping healthy—but it's unknown how often these searches lead to one purchasing online prescriptions. A study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing examined rates of pregnant women who search online for medication advice and purchase prescriptions.

The quality of the data can be questionable, and a rise in retrieved online information being brought to appointments poses a unique challenge for physicians.

This study examined internet searches of pregnant women about medication safety, risk and the willingness to take prescribed medication. Data were examined from an online survey from January to March 2013 of 284 respondents.

Results showed 39 percent of respondents were taking medication when they became pregnant, which promoted 76 percent to search the internet for medication safety information. Analgesics were the most searched category at 41 percent. Health service sites were the most used online source. Some 90 percent of women would reconsider taking any medications to reduce potential risk to an unborn baby while trying to conceive, but only 5 percent of women bought medication online.

“The lack of specific recommendations for medication use during pregnancy is challenging for healthcare staff and pregnant women who need robust evidence to make informed treatment decisions,” wrote first author Marlene Sinclair and colleagues. “The internet is a recognized, commonly accessed, source of medication information for pregnant women.”