Background: MotherSafe was established in January 2000 at the Royal Hospital for Women as Australia's first ‘purpose-built’ Teratogen Information Service and since then has received over 75 000 calls regarding exposures during pregnancy and lactation.
Aim: To describe the patterns of use of MotherSafe over a three-year period.
Methods: Retrospective descriptive epidemiological study using data from the database established at MotherSafe. Records from all the calls logged at MotherSafe between January 2005 and December 2007 were analysed to determine total number of calls, demographic characteristics of callers, including age, caller category and postcode, reason for call, source of referral and type of exposure.
Results: A total of 47 138 calls were recorded to the MotherSafe service from January 2005 to December 2007. The majority of calls were regarding exposures in pregnancy (55%) and breast-feeding (38%). Average age of patients was 32.3 years. Of the calls made, 81.9% (38 485 of 46 968) were by consumers (the pregnant or lactating woman herself or a relative). The most common primary exposure categories were: over-the-counter medications (11.3%), psychotropic medication (9.0%), herbal or vitamin products (8.2%), antibiotics (7.0%), gastrointestinal medications (6.8%) and topical products (6.6%). Forty per cent of callers enquired about multiple exposures.
Conclusions: The utilisation of MotherSafe by consumers and general practitioners continues to increase, reflecting the strong demand for a teratogen counselling service that provides high-quality, evidence-based information on exposures during pregnancy and lactation.