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Table 1 Identified studies that have measured prevalence of use of herbal medicine in pregnancy

From: Herbal medicine use during pregnancy in a group of Australian women

Author, year, country Design Sample Herbal use reported Most common herbs
Byrne et. al. (2002), Adelaide, Australia [24] Structured interview 48 antenatal inpatients with a variety of diagnoses 56% used herbal medicine or tea during pregnancy 46 herbal products used, most common: chamomile, ginger, peppermint, raspberry leaf, valerian
Henry & Crowther (2000), Adelaide, Australia [7] Structured interview 140/161 (88%) pregnant women of any gestation 10% used herbs in current pregnancy Evening primrose oil, antioxidants (no others reported)
Maats & Crowther (2002), Adelaide, Australia [26] Structured interview 211 pregnant women 26 weeks gestation onwards Overall herbal use in pregnancy not stated. 20% used ginger and 9% raspberry leaf tea Ginger, raspberry leaf tea, chamomile, echinacea, evening primrose oil, slippery elm
Pinn & Pallett, (2002), Nambour, Australia [27] Survey, self completed questionnaire 305 consecutive women at booking (16–24 weeks gestation 12% used herbs in current pregnancy 15 herbs used: raspberry leaf, Chinese herbs, ginger, St John's Wort, evening primrose, echinacea
Hemminki et al. (1991), Finland [15] 3 surveys, 2 retrospective. Structured questionnaires. Study 1: 2912 (94%) pregnant women Study 2: 180/181 postpartum women Study 1: 3.6% and study 2: 14% of women had used 'alternative' drugs during pregnancy Limited information as supplements coded into harmful, dangerous and possibly dangerous categories. Dried cherry and natural lime most common. 25 women had used supplements potentially harmful to pregnancy e.g. St John's Wort.
Gharoro & Igbafe (2000), Nigeria [17] Cross-sectional, structured questionnaire 1200 pregnant women varied gestations 12% used 'native' herbs Not described
Nordeng & Havnen (2004), Norway [10] Structured interview 400 women 3 days postpartum 36% used herbs in pregnancy 46 herbs used, most common: echinacea, iron-rich herbs, ginger, chamomile, cranberry, aloe, herbal teas (mixed), horsetail, black elderberry, wheat germ oil
Gibson et. al. (2001), USA [9] Prospective cross-sectional survey 250 pregnant women (gestation not reported in abstract) 9.1% used herbs in current pregnancy Garlic, aloe, chamomile, peppermint, ginger, echinacea, pumpkin seeds, ginseng
Hepner et al. (2002), USA [16] Postal survey- structured questionnaire 734/1203 (61%) pregnant women 7.1% used herbs in current pregnancy Echinacea, ephedra, St John's Wort, ginger, ginko biloba, gingseng, primrose, garlic, cranberry
Tsui et. al. (2001), USA [19] Survey, self completed questionnaire 150 women in 1st to 3rd trimesters (24% response rate) 13% used dietary supplement during pregnancy 45 herbs used, most common: echinacea, pregnancy tea**, ginger, vitamin B6*, vitamin C*, multivitamin with herbs, raspberry leaf
Studies specifically concerned with nausea
Hollyer et al. (2002), Canada [18] Telephone survey, structured questionnaire 70/110 (64%) pregnant women who rang a nausea and vomiting telephone helpline 61% used complementary or alternative therapies overall. 51% used ginger Only ginger mentioned
Westfall (2004), Canada [28] Qualitative study, two semi-structured interviews 27 women in 3rd trimester, 23/27 1–4 months postpartum. Women self-selected into study 96% used herbal medicine in pregnancy (50% of those with nauseas used herbs) For nausea, herbs used were: ginger, peppermint and cannabis
  1. * Other studies have not included vitamins, but here these were only reported by two women respectively
  2. ** Pregnancy tea contained a blend of herbs including spearmint, raspberry leaf, nettle etc.