Why can’t you answer my pregnancy questions?

In some cases, no evidence is available to answer your question. In others, some limited knowledge may be available. Little research has been done involving pregnant women.

Infections, medicines and pregnancy

Research has shown that some infections during pregnancy can be harmful to the unborn baby, such as rubella and toxoplasmosis. However, there are many aspects of health during pregnancy where research has not been done – for example, whether it’s safe to take some medicines during pregnancy.

If there is no evidence, or knowledge is limited, this does not necessarily mean that an infection or medicine is harmful. It means that there is no evidence to prove whether it’s harmful or not.

See the links below for more information: 

Is it safe to…?

Pregnant women usually have lots of questions about their lifestyle and their health. For example, pregnant women often ask if it’s safe to:

  • use products such as fake tan or hair dye 
  • remove unwanted hair by waxing or electrolysis
  • get a tattoo or body piercing
  • go on amusement rides at theme parks  the park may have its own rules, so look out for information
  • use sunbeds, jacuzzis, saunas or steam rooms 

There are answers for some of these questions, although knowledge may be limited. For others, research has not been done, so no evidence is available.

Medical research

All medical research in the UK is strictly regulated and must be approved by a recognised ethics committee.

Pregnant women are specifically excluded from many research trials, in case of harmful effects on the unborn baby. It is unethical to carry out research during pregnancy to prove whether an infection or medicine is harmful to the unborn baby.

Read about clinical trials and medical research for more information.

Unanswered pregnancy questions

A UK database has been set up to publish questions that existing research evidence can’t currently answer. It’s called the UK Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatments (UK DUETs).

The main aim of DUETs is to help decide which of the unanswered questions are most important.

The categories in DUETs include pregnancy and childbirth. Some examples of the issues currently in this category include:

  • whether it’s safe to take antidepressants during pregnancy
  • what treatments can be used for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy
  • the effects of taking anti-epileptic drugs during pregnancy

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:


Page last reviewed: 20/04/2015

Next review due: 19/04/2017