To reduce child morbidity and mortality in the country, a Gynaecologist with the National Hospital Abuja, Dr. Babatunde Olayinka, has warned pregnant women against taking herbal medicines to avoid giving birth to babies with defects.
Olayinka urged pregnant women to abstain from taking drugs generally without the doctor’s prescription.
According to him, herbal drugs have been known to cause premature contractions if taken during pregnancy.
Studies have shown that herbal medicines contain substances that can cause miscarriage, premature birth, uterine contractions, or injury to the foetus.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), every year, an estimated 7.9 million infants (6% of worldwide births) are born with serious birth defects.
He pointed out that if the herbal drugs were used during the first trimester, it could cause congenital problem for the newly formed foetus.
“It can even cause abnormality in babies and sometimes it can result in miscarriages and in latter part of the pregnancy; it can lead to pre-term delivery.
“The herbal drugs can even cause damages to the foetus and problems to the liver and kidneys,’’ Olayinka said.
He said that in spite of the many advertisements of herbal drugs in the media, research showed that their efficacies were mostly in doubt.
Olayinka said that although herbal drugs were derived from properties of plants, they should be avoided during pregnancy.
“The components of orthodox medicines are known, the complications are also known, so are the effect of the drugs on major organs of the body.
“There are some orthodox medicines that are not safe during pregnancy even if it is given in pregnancy, the risk of giving the orthodox medicines are weighed before they are administered.”
Olayinka advised pregnant women to attend ante-natal at the early stage of pregnancy to avoid complications during delivery or having abnormal babies.