New findings published on Wednesday in the journal The BMJ demonstrate that risks of birth defects, associated to the use of contraceptive pills before or after pregnancy, are not increased with the birth control method that is most used among women in the United States. Researchers said women who become pregnant just after stopping using birth control pills should not worry about a birth defect on their babies.

As stated in a previous report, according to the Guttmacher Institute, the typical American woman wants two children. To make it possible, they must use contraceptives for approximately three decades. Among American women who use contraceptives, the largest percentage uses the pill to prevent pregnancy; however, more than half also identify with non-contraceptive health benefits, such as treatment for excessive menstrual bleeding, menstrual pain and acne, as reasons for use, wrote the Organization in its website.

A recent study demonstrates that risks of birth defects, associated to the use of contraceptive pills before or after pregnancy, are not increased with the mentioned method. Credit: Dispatch Times

It is known that nine percent of women who take oral contraceptives get pregnant within the first year of usage, as a consequence of forgetting to take a dose or using drugs such as antibiotics, antidepressants or HIV drugs that can make birth control pills have a decrease of their effect, as explained the lead researcher Brittany Charlton, who is  an instructor in the department of epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Results from the study would appear to show that approximately 2.5 percent of babies, among 880,00 births, were born with a birth defect. The team analyzed different groups and concluded that 25.1 babies per 1,000 births, from mothers who never took the pill, presented birth defects. A very similar record, 24.9 babies per 1,000 births, was registered when analyzing babies from women who had used oral contraceptives before becoming pregnant.

“The prevalence of birth defects was consistent across each of the oral contraceptive groups as well as when we added in pregnancies that ended as stillbirths or induced abortions. Similarly, the results were also consistent even when we broke down the birth defects into different subgroups, like limb defects,” Charlton said to HealthDay.

To reduce the chances of obtaining non-conclusive results, the researchers did not include in the investigation babies born with birth defects as a consequence of factors such as fetal alcohol syndrome. Also, mother’s age, household income, level of education, history of birth defects, smoking during pregnancy, and several factors were considered when analyzing the results.

“We did not observe a significantly increased risk of major birth defects associated with oral contraceptive use in the months before or after pregnancy onset. For women who have a breakthrough pregnancy during oral contraceptive use or even intentionally become pregnant within a few months of stopping oral contraceptive use, any exposure is unlikely to cause her fetus to develop a major birth defect,” concluded the study.

Pharmacists in Oregon can now prescribe birth control pills

As part of new laws that are taking place in 2016 in Oregon, pharmacists are now permitted to prescribe birth control pills to women that qualify after filling out a health questionnaire. Previously, the approval of a doctor was needed in order to buy the pills. Taking pills is the contraceptive method that is most used among Americans.

It was announced that women who are older than 18 years will need to fill out a questionnaire that was designed to be analyzed by pharmacists who will decide whether they qualify or not to receive a prescription. An interesting fact is that pharmacists can refuse to make prescriptions if they have religious reasons, however, they will need to refer women to another place or to another employee.

Source: BMJ