Background. Herbal drugs are often promoted as ‘natural’ and ‘safe’. These claims may especially attract pregnant women who are often concerned about their unborn child's well-being. Few studies have assessed the use of herbal drugs in pregnancy and the factors related to this use.
Objective. To investigate the impact of socio-demographic factors, knowledge and attitude on the use of herbal drugs in pregnancy.
Methods. A total of 400 postpartum women at Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo, Norway were interviewed within 3 days after giving birth by using a structured questionnaire in the period from February to June 2001.
Results. In all, 36% of the women reported herbal use during their pregnancy. Both women who had used herbal drugs in pregnancy and those not, had a positive attitude toward the use of herbal drugs in pregnancy. Echinacea was the most well known herb among both groups of women. The factors associated with the use of herbal drugs in pregnancy were: prior use of herbs, high knowledge about herbal drugs and age between 26 and 35 years. There was a non-significant higher frequency of herbal drugs use in pregnancy among women with a higher education level.
Conclusion. The widespread use and positive attitude toward herbal drugs in pregnancy indicates an increased need for documentation about both the efficacy and safety of herbal drugs in pregnancy. Women between 26 and 35 years with a prior history of herbal drug use and high knowledge about herbs, are more prone to using herbal drugs in pregnancy.