Co_OPT – assessing the safety of medicines taken during pregnancy

Sarah Stock, Rebecca Reynolds, Elizabeth Wastnedge

Half of women are prescribed medicines during pregnancy, but we don’t know enough about their safety and long-term health effects, for mother or baby. Our researchers are involved in an international collaboration which hopes to answer some these questions.

Start: 2018

End: 2023

Why do we need this research?

Half of pregnant women are prescribed drugs during their pregnancy to prevent complications. However, we don’t know enough about the long-term effects of many of these medicines for mother and baby. We need to understand more about how medicines should be given during pregnancy to safeguard the health of babies.

What’s happening in this project?

Researchers supported by Tommy’s are involved in a research collaboration called Co_OPT, which is bringing scientists together to study the long-term effects of medicines taken during pregnancy.

The Co_OPT collaboration will first focus on corticosteroids, drugs which are given to women at risk of preterm labour to help their baby’s lungs develop properly. Corticosteroids need to be given seven days before birth for them to work properly, but we don’t know enough about the consequences of the drugs being given too early or too late.

Our researchers will work with scientists from across the world to gather data from previous studies of corticosteroids. These trials combined have information relating to 1.5 million women and their children – a huge amount of valuable data to study. The team will re-analyse the data to understand the benefits and risks of corticosteroid treatments in pregnant women.

What difference will this project make?

This research project will help to answer questions about the safety and long-term effects of using corticosteroids to treat babies at risk of premature birth. The Co_OPT collaboration will then move on to investigate other medicines in the future. Ultimately, this international project will help doctors maximise the health and wellbeing of both mother and baby.

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