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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


CONRADIE, M; HENDERSON, B D  and  VAN WYK, C. Preventable warfarin-induced birth defects: A missed opportunity?. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2019, vol.109, n.6, pp.415-420. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND. Congenital abnormalities and pregnancy losses due to the teratogenic effects of warfarin are prevalent among the South African population. These are potentially preventable if the challenges and barriers faced by at-risk women are understood and addressed effectively. OBJECTIVES. To determine the practice, knowledge and attitudes regarding the teratogenic risks experienced by women administered warfarin. METHODS. A descriptive study was performed. Quantitative data were collected through a researcher-administered questionnaire. The target population comprised 101 women of reproductive age who received warfarin treatment and attended a single tertiary-level anticoagulation clinic. RESULTS. Patient-related challenges identified in this study are: language barriers, poor understanding of basic terminology and mathematics, poor contraceptive and family planning practices, lack of knowledge regarding the risks of warfarin in pregnancy and passive attitudes towards information attainment. CONCLUSIONS. Interventions are necessary to address the challenges in such settings. These include increased awareness of the teratogenic potential of specific chronic medications among healthcare providers, patients and the public. Standardised management protocols for women of reproductive age initiated on teratogenic medications should be implemented, including contraceptive and family planning discussions at follow-up visits. Improvement of the counselling skills of healthcare providers and the availability of translators or healthcare providers fluent in local languages could assist in risk reduction.

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