Racial/Ethnic Differences in Prenatal Supplement and Medication Use in Low-Risk Pregnant Women

Yassaman Vafai, Edwina H. Yeung, Rajeshwari Sundaram, Melissa M. Smarr, Nicole Gerlanc, William A. Grobman, Daniel Skupski, Edward K. Chien, Stefanie N. Hinkle, Roger B. Newman, Deborah A. Wing, Angela C. Ranzini, Anthony Sciscione, Jagteshwar Grewal, Cuilin Zhang, Katherine L. Grantz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective This study aimed to describe the overall quantity and type of supplements and medications used during pregnancy in a low-risk cohort and to examine any racial/ethnic differences in intake. Study Design We used data from 2,164 racially/ethnically diverse, nonobese, and low-risk pregnant women participating without pre-pregnancy chronic conditions in a prospective cohort study at 12 sites across the United States. Medication data were self-reported as free text in enrollment, follow-up visit questionnaires, and abstracted from medical records at delivery. Supplements and medications data were mapped to their active ingredients and categorized into corresponding classes using the Slone Drug Dictionary. The total number and classes of supplements and medications consumed during pregnancy were calculated. Modified Poisson regression models were used to estimate the racial/ethnic differences in supplements and medications intake. All models were adjusted for maternal sociodemographic factors and study site. Results 98% of women took at least one supplement during pregnancy, with prenatal vitamins/multivitamins being most common. While only 31% reported taking no medications during pregnancy, 23% took one, 18% took two, and 28% took three or more. The percentage of women taking at least one medication during pregnancy was highest among non-Hispanic white women and lowest among Asians (84 vs. 55%, p < 0.001). All racial/ethnic groups reported taking the same top four medication classes including central nervous system agents, gastrointestinal drugs, anti-infective agents, and antihistamines. Compared with non-Hispanic white women, Hispanic (adjusted relative risk [aRR]: 0.84, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.71-0.98), and Asian women (aRR: 0.83, 95% CI: 0.70-0.98) were less likely to take central nervous system agents, as well as gastrointestinal drugs (Hispanics aRR: 0.79, 95% CI: 0.66-0.94; Asians aRR = 0.75, 95% CI: 0.63-0.90), and antihistamines (Hispanics aRR: 0.65, 95% CI: 0.47-0.92). Conclusion Supplement intake was nearly universal. Medication use was also common among this low-risk pregnancy cohort and differed by race/ethnicity. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT00912132. Key Points In women without chronic conditions, medication use is common. Racial/ethnic differences exist in prenatal medications use. Almost all women use supplements during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-632
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of perinatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • medication classes
  • medication intake
  • medication prevalence
  • pregnancy
  • vitamins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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