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Motherisk News: Motherisk broadens international scope and delivers safety messages to more pregnant moms worldwide

The Motherisk Program's mission is simple: to safely treat the mother without hurting the baby. Based at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the program is widely recognized as the pre-eminent international centre for the study of the safety or risk of medications during pregancy and breastfeeding. The program also offers a call centre for parents to obtain advice and address any concerns related to these exposures.

Motherisk's latest partnership is the creation of a new international collaborative network with Ben Gurion University in Israel, called BeMORE: the Ben Gurion-Motherisk Obstetric Record of Exposure.

Typically Motherisk bases its research on its own database of callers, which average about 200 per day. In order to obtain a larger pool of data, researchers needed to expand their scope. In southern Israel, almost all pregnant women followed at Clalit Heath Services, a medical clinic, deliver at Soroka Medical Center, resulting in a pool of 81,703 births between January 1, 1998 and March 31, 2007. By examining computerized databases from both facilities, the research team was able to study the safety of a drug in a larger group.

The new study, published in the June 10 advance online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at the safety of metoclopromide, a drug widely used for morning sickness in Israel and in many European countries, although it is not indicated for morning sickness in Canada.

The research team compared the pregnancy outcomes of 3,458 babies exposed to the drug during the first trimester in utero to those whose mothers did not take the drug. The researchers found no increased risk of malformations, prematurity or stillbirth. "This discovery highlights the strength of the new collaboration in evaluating drugs in pregnancy, and may benefit millions of women worldwide," says Dr. Gideon Koren, co-author of the study, Director of the Motherisk Program, Senior Scientist at SickKids and Professor of Paediatrics, Pharmacology, Pharmacy and Medical Genetics at the University of Toronto.

Motherisk has served as a model for the development of similar programs in Japan, South Korea, Australia and Brazil, among others. The program attracts post-doctoral trainees from around the world, who spend anywhere from a few months to three years at Motherisk. To date, Motherisk has hosted trainees from more than 35 countries, many of whom have returned to their home country to apply the expertise they gained here.

"It's very gratifying for Motherisk and SickKids to know that we have had such an impact on the health of pregnant women and babies internationally," says Koren. "The fact that physicians come to train here with us, and continue to work with us after they leave, illustrates how these collaborations enable us to share our knowledge with the world."

As a result of the initial success of BeMORE, Dr. Ilan Matok, the lead author of the study, will soon join Motherisk as a post-doctoral trainee.

The study was supported by Research Leadership for Better Pharmacotherapy During Pregnancy and Lactation and SickKids Foundation.

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The information on this website is not intended as a substitute for the advice and care of your doctor or other health-care provider. Always consult your doctor if you have any questions about exposures during pregnancy and before you take any medications.

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The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is a health-care, teaching and research centre dedicated exclusively to children; affiliated with the University of Toronto. For general inquires please call: 416-813-1500.

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