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Pregnant women who need medications face a risky guessing game. A federal task force is now trying to help

Congress last year created an NIH task force to study why women can't get reliable answers on medication use during pregnancy — and to recommend solutions.

So many women face wrenching decisions about using medication during their pregnancies. Now, federal officials are finally inviting them to tell their stories. And they’re not holding back:

“I was on Zoloft for many years before I became pregnant with my first. Both my psychiatrist and OB/GYN would not give me an answer about if I should continue to take it.”

“For every condition that couldn’t be addressed with acetaminophen or antacids, I was out of luck. Several months later, when I forgot to take that list of medications on vacation with me and came down with a cold, I sweated bullets trying to recall whether medicated cough drops had been on the list.”

“I wish I came off the meds while I was pregnant but what was done was done.”

Their fears and frustrations are slowly stirring change. Congress last year created a task force through the National Institutes of Health to study why so few women can get reliable answers on medication use during pregnancy — and to recommend solutions. Members have been holding public meetings and reviewing the women’s comments. Experts say it’s long overdue.

Few drugs have been approved as safe and effective to use during pregnancy, and most of those are for conditions specific to pregnancy. As a result, almost every medicine given to a pregnant woman, from prescription antacids for acid reflux to biologic drugs to prevent epileptic seizures, is considered an off-label use. Some doctors

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