Objective: To explore drug (prescription, over-the-counter and herbal) utilization in pregnant women attending a public sector tertiary healthcare institution.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional case study in women attending antenatal clinics at the Mount Hope Women’s Hospital. Women (506) who consecutively presented for routine care at the antenatal clinic were interviewed on the medication they took. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression for predictors of drug use were done using SPSS 16.
Results: There were 200 (39.5%) primigravidae, 306 (60.5%) multigravidae and 299 (59%) women were in the third trimester of pregnancy. Most women (69.8%) were between 20−35 years of age. Women took an average of 1.32, 1.22 and 0.94 prescribed drugs in each trimester, respectively. Multivitamins (59.8%) and iron/folic acid (54.2%) were the most frequently prescribed drugs. Regardless of trimester, only 20% of women took supplemental calcium. Very few women (2.4%) took herbal medications. Paracetamol was the most common over-the-counter (OTC) medication in all trimesters. Women with secondary level education were most likely to use OTC iron/folic acid (p = 0.02), paracetamol and histamine2 receptor antagonists [H2RAs] (p = 0.001). More primigravidae took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (p = 0.02) and more women in the first trimester used antiemetics (p = 0.001). Age group (p = 0.048), marital status (p = 0.001) and the trimester of pregnancy (p = 0.001) were predictors of drug utilization.
Conclusion: Overall, women in tertiary healthcare institutions took medication as prescribed particularly multivitamins and iron/folic acid. More women with higher education took OTC paracetamol, iron/folic acid and vitamin supplements. Herbal supplements were rarely used. Research on drug utilization in primary care facilities is recommended.