BACKGROUND: The aim of the Budapest Monitoring System of Self-Poisoning Pregnant Women was to evaluate the potential congenital abnormality inducing effect of extremely large doses of drugs among pregnant women who attempted suicide. This system was appropriate to describe the characteristics of these pregnant women as a secondary finding from this model. METHODS: All self-poisoned patients were cared for at a toxicological inpatient clinic in Budapest, between 1960 and 1993. Of a total of 1,044 pregnant women identified from the three different periods of the project, only 19 (1.8%) died. Women who survived were visited at home to reveal birth outcomes, and their exposed children were examined medically to identify congenital abnormalities and tested to estimate their cognitive-behavioral status. The previous or subsequent children of these pregnant women were used as controls with a similar examination protocol. RESULTS: In general, self-poisoned pregnant women were young (peak age was between 18 and 20 years), 62% had their first pregnancy, 55% were unmarried, they had lower socioeconomic status, 46% were smokers and 22.5% drinkers, but depression/panic disorder occurred only among 17 pregnant women. Suicide attempts with drugs were most frequent in the fourth post-conceptional week and second month of pregnancy. In general they used smaller doses of drugs for suicide than non-pregnant age-matched women. Of 1,044 self-poisoned pregnant women, 926 had known pregnancy outcomes and 411 (44.4%) delivered live-born babies. CONCLUSIONS: The self-poisoning model appears to have several benefits (e.g., dose-response estimation of drugs) in comparison with other methods when evaluating teratogenic/fetotoxic effect of drugs. It is suggested that an international monitoring system of self-poisoned pregnant women should be established to provide a larger data base.
J Inj Violence Res. 2011 Jan; 3(1): 45-54. doi: 10.5249/jivr.v3i1.77