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11 million women on child-bearing age using potentially unsafe prescriptions

Many drugs are unsafe for pregnant women. Even so, more than 11 million women of child-bearing age are using these prescription medications each year. The United States Food and Drug Administration classifies drugs into five categories based on their safety during pregnancy. Class A and B drugs have no evidence of harm to developing babies. There's insufficient evidence on class C drugs to determine their safety. Drugs in class D are considered potentially harmful to the fetus, but may be taken if the benefits outweigh the risks. These include the antidepressant Paxil and some cancer drugs such as Tamoxifen. Pregnant women should not take drugs in class X, which includes Thalidomide and Statin -- drugs to lower cholesterol. But new research finds doctors often prescribe class D and X drugs to women who could become pregnant. Researchers studied nearly a half million women of child bearing age and found that one in six had used a potentially dangerous drug. Around half of these women had no documented birth control or fertility counseling. In fact, doctors found that women using class D and X drugs were just as likely to become pregnant in the next three months as women using safer medications.

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