Melbourne: Pharmacy Department, The Royal Women's Hospital, Women's and Children's Health; 2001
144 pages. Price $27.50

The aim of this guide is to collate the available information on the effects of a comprehensive list of drugs registered in Australia as well as a list of commonly encountered herbal medicines during pregnancy and the recommendations on their safety.

The guide has been concisely written, thoughtfully organised and is indeed a very handy little tome. For those of us who deal regularly with pregnant women, the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee's 'Prescribing medicines in pregnancy' 4th edition has been an obligatory addition to our medical bookshelf. This guide retains all that information but provides more comprehensive information as well.

The Alphabetical Drug Listing is perhaps the handiest section of the guide as a quick reference. As well as listing all the drugs alphabetically, there are then five columns for each drug which indicate the Australian risk category for drugs used in pregnancy, specific trimester recommendations (may be used, caution, not recommended, contraindicated) and the page later in the guide where the particular drug is discussed.

The section of the guide titled 'Further information on drugs' is excellent. Brief and to the point it is also highly referenced (200 references in all). The authors obviously have researched what is the evidence for classes and groups of drugs and provide this support in the text. This part of the guide is very user-friendly and easy to navigate around to find the information needed.

A section on drug addiction during pregnancy is timely, helpful and factual as is the section on the herbals contraindicated during pregnancy and why they should be avoided. The guide concludes with the comprehensive set of references.

Drugs and Pregnancy is a valuable tool on any doctor's bookshelves and would be highly recommended for any professional involved in the care of pregnant patients.

Jane Talbot

General Practitioner, Kalamunda, Western Australia