Saturday, February 16, 2013

Article: Safety of Morning Sickness Drug

Thought y'all might be interested in this article, "Morning Sickness Drug Shown Safe for Babies," concerning metoclopramide, which is an anti-nausea drug that I've never even seen before!

From the article:
"The Israeli study, led by researchers at Ben-Gurion University, included pregnant women enrolled in Israel's largest HMO from 1998 through 2007.
"It compared the health of newborns of 3,458 women who took metoclopramide, for as little as a week to more than three weeks, with 78,245 newborns of women who had not used it. Rates of problems were low and similar in both groups.
"In the U.S., other drugs — Compazine, Phenergan and Zofran — are generally used more often than Reglan, which is made by Schwarz Pharma Inc. of Smyrna, Ga. The new study should lead obstetricians to prescribe it more often, some experts said.
"Until now, doctors have only assumed it is safe, based on a couple small studies and the lack of reports of serious problems, said Dr. Jeffrey Chapa, head of maternal fetal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic."
On how the drug works and its side effects....
"Metoclopramide, which works by speeding emptying of the stomach and reducing heartburn, can have side effects, including sedation, insomnia, depression and anxiety."
I am never in favor of using drugs during pregnancy when it's avoidable... but in terms of hyperemesis, it is not unavoidable. For the health (and life) of the baby and mother, it's essential - especially in the more severe, life-threatening cases. I'm happy to see more options in the arena to treat HG, especially since different things have different levels of effectiveness in different women.

The only thing that alarms me is the fact that this "safety" was based on newborn health only, not long-term studies. I'm sure that the studies of DES babies (babies whose mothers used diethyl stilbestrol) would have shown healthy babies... until those babies grew up into adult women who had ridiculously high rates of certain forms of cancer. Healthy newborns don't mean that drugs have no undesirable side-effects in the long-term. Thus, the statement that "[This study] compared the health of newborns of 3,458 women who took metoclopramide... with newborns of women who had not used it. Rates of problems were low and similar in both groups," is quite accurate, but it might be a bit of a stretch to say (as the article's title implies), "This drug is completely safe for pregnant mothers and their babies."

However, again, HG has to be treated, and I'm always glad to see more options out there - not to mention the fact that most of the other drugs used to treat HG have even fewer safety studies to support their use than this one! Whether or not it will catch on in the U.S. is another question.

Thoughts, all? Hat tip to my friend Becky at Refuse to Be a Womb Pod for notifying me of this article!

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