Oral contraceptive use just before or during pregnancy is not associated with an increased risk of major birth defects, suggests the findings of a recent study.
Pills are the most common method of birth control, but there was a lack of research looking at whether circulating sex hormones in the body impacts the risk that a woman develops a fetus with a birth defect.
Oral contraceptives are a leading form of contraception worldwide. When used properly, these are over 99% effective. However, around 9% of women become pregnant in the first year of use because of missing a dose, taking the pill with other medications, or illnesses.
When planning a pregnancy, most women stop using oral contraceptives, and usually become pregnant within a few months.
So a team of US and Danish researchers carried out a large prospective observational study to examine the association between oral contraceptive use around the time of conception, and into pregnancy, with major birth defects.
This is an observational study so no definitive conclusions can be made about cause and effect.
The study has been published in BMJ.