Echinacea May Be Safe for Pregnant Women

November 16, 2000

1 Min Read
Echinacea May Be Safe for Pregnant Women

TORONTO--In the Nov. 13 Archives of Internal Medicine (160:3141-3143, 2000), researchers reported that echinacea supplementation during pregnancy may not affect the developing fetus.

The study followed 412 women, with 206 reporting they had used the herb while pregnant. Of those who took echinacea, 112 women reported taking the herb in the first trimester. In the echinacea group, there were 195 live births, which included three sets of twins, 13 spontaneous abortions and six major malformations (including one chromosomal abnormality). Researchers, led by Michael Gallo from the University of Toronto, noted that four of the malformations occurred in women who used echinacea the first trimester.

In comparison, the control group (those who had not used echinacea while pregnant) had 198 live births, seven spontaneous abortions and seven major malformations. The researchers concluded there were no statistical differences between the study and control groups in terms of pregnancy outcome, delivery method, maternal weight gain, birth weight or fetal distress.

However, pregnant women taking this herb may need to exercise caution. In an interview with the media outlet Reuters, Gallo stated that "unlike with prescription and over-the-counter drugs, pregnant women were less cautious with the herb echinacea in pregnancy as they felt it posed little risk." He added this was a preliminary study, and further studies need to be conducted on the herb's safety. For a copy of the abstract, visit http://archinte.ama-assn.org/issues/current/abs/ioi90857.html.

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