The Israel Teratogen Information Service: A 10-Year Report
A. Ornoy, S. Shechtman, J. Arnon
Hebrew University - Hadassah Medical School and Israel Ministry of Health, Jerusalem
The Israel Teratogen Information Service (TIS) was established 10 years ago with the help of the Ministry of Health and the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School. During these 10 years we have had 20,631 calls. We describe the results of our experience in counseling.
There was a gradual increase in the number of calls, which in 1997 reached 4,447. Most calls (84.5%) were during pregnancy, while 12% were prior to pregnancy. In 75.7% the calls were due to drug exposure during pregnancy; 10.9% were due to exposure to X-rays; there was maternal infection in 6.6% and in 5% immunization during pregnancy. The callers were: physicians in 46.6%, nurses 18.9%, pregnant women 39.5%, and 4.8% others.
In 76.6% there was no additional risk to the embryo or fetus and in 17.4% there was a small additional risk of less than 1%; a significant additional risk to the fetus was expected in only 6%. In 3625 pregnant women with known outcome there were 8.9% spontaneous and 9.2% induced abortions. Of the 2968 live-born children, 2.3% were malformed, a rate similar to that among controls.
The information provided by the TIS alleviated the fears most pregnant women have, and reduced unnecessary terminations of pregnancy planned because of unjustified fear of the teratogenic effects of agents to which women were exposed. It reduced the number of children born with congenital anomalies, since pregnancies were interrupted whenever there was a high risk for congenital anomalies.