The UK Teratology Information Service (www.uktis.org) is commissioned by Public Health England to:
The service was established in London in 1983 and subsequently transferred to be part of the NPIS (Newcastle Unit) in 1995.
Initially, almost all enquiries to the service were made by telephone, but in recent years UKTIS has concentrated on the provision of online information. For registered health professionals, detailed, fully referenced, clinically focused scientific monographs on the potential foetal effects of maternal exposure to over 400 medications and chemicals are available via TOXBASE. There is also open access to the summaries of these monographs via the UKTIS website (www.uktis.org). More recently, UKTIS has developed information leaflets designed for use by the general public and hosted on our public-facing website, bumps – best use of medicines in pregnancy (www.medicinesinpregnancy.org), which was launched in April 2014.
Since the thalidomide tragedy in the 1960s there has been increased public awareness of the risks that some medicines, when taken during pregnancy, may harm the developing baby (i.e. act as teratogens). However, most women still take medicines during pregnancy, in many instances, before they realise they are pregnant.
Although the majority of babies are normal at birth, about 1 in 40 has a congenital malformation (‘birth defect’). In most cases, it is not known why these malformations occur. Therefore, if treatment is required during pregnancy, it is important that doctors are able to give accurate evidence based advice to women about the risks, if any, of prescribed medication or ofchemical or occupational exposure.
The UKTIS provides a national service on all aspects of the toxicity of drugs and chemicals in pregnancy for health professionals. Information is provided via the telephone information service and also on-line via TOXBASE.
These services include:
In April 2014 'bumps' (www.medicinesinpregnancy.org) was launched. This public facing website enables the online provision of openly accessible information that is consistent with that in UKTIS scientific monographs but summarised in a format suitable for members of the public.
The UKTIS telephone service is available during normal working hours. Urgent advice can be obtained out of hours via the National Poisons Information Service.