Drugs in pregnancy: Pharmacologic and physiologic changes that affect clinical care

Emily A. Pinheiro, Catherine S. Stika*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Pharmacologic interventions play a major role in obstetrical care throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery and the postpartum. Traditionally, obstetrical providers have utilized standard dosing regimens developed for non-obstetrical indications based on pharmacokinetic knowledge from studies in men or non-pregnant women. With the recognition of pregnancy as a special pharmacokinetic population in the late 1990s, investigators have begun to study drug disposition in this unique patient dyad. Many of the basic physiologic changes that occur during pregnancy have significant impact on drug absorption, distribution and clearance. Activity of Phase I and Phase II drug metabolizing enzymes are differentially altered by pregnancy, resulting in drug concentrations sufficiently different for some medications that efficacy or toxicity is affected. Placental transporters play a major dynamic role in determining fetal drug exposure. In the past two decades, we have begun to expand our understanding of obstetrical pharmacology; however, to truly optimize pharmacologic care of our pregnant patients and their developing fetus, additional research is critically needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number151221
JournalSeminars in Perinatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • clinical pharmacology
  • pharmacokinetics
  • pharmacology
  • placental transporters
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Drugs in pregnancy: Pharmacologic and physiologic changes that affect clinical care'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this