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Should pregnant women be excluded from medical research?

With all the research conducted on chronic health conditions such as depression, diabetes and hypertension, it is interesting how little, if any, research is done to see how treatments or drugs that abate these conditions would affect pregnant women.

According to a recent HuffingtonPost.com report, there is a significant gap of knowledge on how medications affect pregnant women because they have been historically excluded from medical research. This is due, in large part, to the notion that pregnant women should avoid taking a number of medicines out of fear that it would adversely affect the fetus. Nevertheless, a woman who fails to continue necessary medications, or fails to begin a prescribed treatment may run into the same risks. 

The reality is, women are having children at older ages, and chronic medical conditions are more common. Because of this, stopping medication may not be the best option for an expectant mother. Additionally, if a pregnant woman has more information about the benefits and drawbacks of a medicine or treatment, chances are that staying the course could improve her short-term (and long term) health while minimizing the potential complications to the baby.

So the question remains: Should pregnant women continue to be excluded from medical research, or should they be able to determine what level of risk they are willing to take? This is where a detailed informed consent process can help answer the questions that will arise, and give pregnant women as much information as possible to help in the decision-making process.

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