Health experts issue warning to pregnant women over traditional Chinese medicine

Health experts warn pregnant women against traditional Chinese medicine

  • Shanghai medics found that babies were twice as likely to develop “malformations.”
  • The study involved 16,751 women from 12 different provinces in China

Expectant mothers who use traditional Chinese medicines could put their babies’ health at risk, doctors warn.

Researchers from Shanghai examined the health of babies of 16,000 women across the country.

Babies born to women who underwent traditional treatments during pregnancy were twice as likely to have birth defects than mothers who did not.

Experts claimed the drugs may carry a “significant risk of fetal malformations” and urged expectant mothers to use the therapies “with caution.”

The alternative practice has been used for centuries by healers around the world to prevent and treat disease.

Researchers in Shanghai examined the health of the babies of 16,000 women across the country. They found that babies exposed to the traditional treatments were more than twice as likely to develop birth defects than babies whose mothers didn’t take the medication.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes both acupuncture and herbal remedies.

Health chiefs say the herbal products may be contaminated with toxins, heavy metals and pesticides — all of which can have side effects.

Previous studies have shown that some are just as effective at lowering blood pressure as Western medications and may help lower blood sugar levels.

But scientists at Fudan University in Shanghai noted there are “widespread concerns” about whether they can increase the risk of birth defects.

They assessed how the drugs affected more than 16,000 women who took them before and during pregnancy, as well as their babies, in 12 Chinese provinces.

The study was conducted between August 2017 and 2020, with women from 23 hospitals undergoing ultrasounds, clinical exams and checkups.

Divided into three groups, some 12,334 women did not use any drugs, while 4,128 received Western drugs and 189 used TCMs.

Pregnant women who took at least one prescription of TCMs were considered by medical professionals to have TCM exposure.

The results showed that per 1,000 fetuses exposed to TCMs, an average of 34.6 fetuses had ‘congenital malformations’ – or birth defects – compared to 14.6 of those not exposed.

Write in the journal Acta Obstetricia and Gynecologica Scandinavicadoctors said, “Feet exposed to TCM had an increased risk of congenital malformations compared to those with no exposure.”

“Compared to the women with no exposure, those with TCM exposure alone had a significant risk of fetal malformations,” doctors said.

Other factors may have biased the results, which come from an observational study.

The most commonly used TCM to treat pregnancy flu or inflammation was Pudilan, doctors said.

One of the study’s authors, Jiang-Nan Wu, of Fudan University, added: “In order to improve traditional Chinese medicine, we need to pay more attention to its dangers – especially the identification of teratogenic ingredients – while we also evaluate the therapeutic effects.’