Morning sickness in pregnancy is common. In fact, over half of women will vomit during pregnancy, and 80% will have some level of nausea. In most cases, these symptoms improve by the end of the first trimester. As any woman who has experienced morning sickness can tell you, even mild symptoms can have a real impact on a woman’s quality of life.
There are many non-medical options for women who have nausea and vomiting, but these won’t work for everyone. Some women can’t work or take care of their children because of the symptoms. Dehydration is a real concern if a woman has excessive vomiting, also known as hyperemesis of pregnancy.
A common concern among medical women is the safety of taking medication during pregnancy. Fortunately, there have been some very reassuring studies over the past several years looking at the safety of Zofran when used for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Does Zofran during pregnancy lead to birth defects?
A recent study looked at women who had nausea and vomiting in pregnancy to see if taking Zofran is safe in pregnancy. Reassuringly for the many women who suffer from nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, this study showed no increase in birth defects. In fact, the group of women who had nausea and vomiting but did not take Zofran had a slightly higher rate of birth defects than those who took the Zofran. Furthermore, those women who took Zofran for morning sickness had a lower miscarriage rate and a higher live birth rate than those women who did not take Zofran (Ondansetron in pregnancy and risk of adverse fetal outcomes in the United States, Reproductive Toxicology, 2016).
More reassuring data comes from a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This study looked at over 600,000 women and compared the outcomes of the pregnancy between those who took Zofran and those who did not. There was no significant increase in stillbirth, major birth defects, or preterm delivery in the woman who took Zofran (Ondansetron in pregnancy and risk of adverse fetal outcomes, New England Journal of Medicine, 2013).
Research indicates women suffering from morning sickness can feel reassured that there are options for helping relieve their symptoms. When the common treatments such as eating small and frequent meals, munching on crackers and sipping ginger ale and using ginger candy or lemon drops aren’t enough, Zofran is one option for helping ease the nausea and vomiting so common during pregnancy.
As with all medications, the use of Zofran should be discussed with your health care provider, and the risks and benefits should be considered before starting this or any medication.
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