Disputation: Gerd Marie Eskerud Harris

PharmaSafe doctoral candidate Gerd Marie Eskerud Harris defends her thesis "Migraine pharmacotherapy during pregnancy: Utilization patterns and associations with child neurodevelopment" for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.

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Trial lecture - time and place

10.06.2022, 10.15. Auditorium 2, Helga Eng

Causal inference based on observational data: when can we trust our results?


Disputation - time and place

10.06.2022, 12.15. Auditorium 2, Helga Eng

Conferral summary

Avhandlingen undersøkte bruk av migrenemedisiner under graviditet, og hvorvidt dette kan føre til økt risiko for nevroutviklingsforstyrrelser hos barnet. Avhandlingen fant at mange gravide sluttet med medisiner eller endret behandling under graviditeten. Det var ingen sammenheng mellom bruk av medisingruppen triptaner i svangerskapet og atferdsproblemer, ADHD, kommunikasjon eller temperament hos barna, noe som er betryggende for gravide med behov for migrenemedisiner.

Main research findings

How is migraine treated during pregnancy, and can treatment affect the child’s neurodevelopment? Migraine is a headache disorder most commonly affecting women of childbearing age. Knowledge about patterns of use and safety of migraine medications during pregnancy is limited. Most previous research has focused on risks of birth defects, but to establish safety during pregnancy, possible long-term consequences, including children’s social, emotional, and behavioral health, need to be investigated. This thesis focused on triptans, the most effective acute medications for migraine treatment. The thesis identified different patterns of use of triptans during pregnancy, and found that many women discontinued triptans and/or switched to other medications considered safer during pregnancy, such as paracetamol. These women should be followed up more closely to ensure optimal migraine management. The thesis also studied the accuracy of information on triptan use in different data sources, and provided advice for future research. Lastly, the thesis found no evidence of increased risks of behavior problems, ADHD, communication problems, or changes in temperament associated with triptan use during pregnancy. This is reassuring to pregnant women who need migraine treatment and their health care providers.

Candidate contact information 


Adjudication committee

Director of Epidemiology, MD ScD Andrea V. Margulis, RTI Health Solutions, Spain

Professor Kari Klungsøyr, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen

Professor Tor Gjøen, Section for Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Department of Pharmacy, University of Oslo


Professor Hedvig Marie Egeland Nordeng, Section for Pharmaceutics and Social Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy, University of Oslo

Assistant professor Mollie E. Wood, Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chair of defence

Professor Ragnhild Elisabeth Heimtun Paulsen, Department of Pharmacy, University of Oslo

Published June 7, 2022 1:59 PM - Last modified June 7, 2022 1:59 PM