MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Brittany M. Charlton, ScD
Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Researcher, Harvard Chan School Department of Epidemiology
Boston, MA 02115
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Charlton: Even though oral contraceptives can be over 99% effective with perfect use, almost 10% of women become pregnant within their first year of use. Many more women will stop using oral contraceptives when planning a pregnancy and conceive within just a few months. In both of those examples, a woman may inadvertently expose her offspring during pregnancy to exogenous sex hormones. We conducted a nationwide cohort study in Denmark in order to investigate whether oral contraceptive use shortly before or during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of major birth defects in the offspring. Our main finding was that there was no increased risk of having a birth defect associated with oral contraceptive exposure. These results were also consistent when we broke down the birth defects into different subgroups, like limb defects.