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Maternal and child health
Use of herbal products in pregnancy: harms are reported but the benefit to harm balance is uncertain
  1. Igho Onakpoya
  1. Primary Care, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Igho Onakpoya, Primary Care, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6GG, UK; igho.onakpoya{at}

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Herbal products are often used in pregnancy; however, the authors of a recently published review advise against using them because of potential harms.

Herbal products are often used during pregnancy. Estimates vary from 29% in Europe, North America and Australia1 to 80% in African women.2 Despite this, many national guidelines do not contain recommendations about the use of herbal products in pregnancy.

The authors of a recent systematic review3 have assessed the incidence and nature of adverse events and herb–drug interactions when herbal products are used during pregnancy and postnatally. They conducted searches in eight databases, including articles published in English of any study type that reported relevant outcomes and focused on pregnancy and the postnatal …

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  • Contributors IO is the sole author of the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests IO holds grant funding from the NIHR School of Primary Care Research (NIHR Evidence Synthesis working group Project No: 390). He is a contributor to Meyler’s Side Effects of Drugs Annual (SEDA), where he reviews reports of adverse drug reactions attributed to antihelminthic drugs.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.