taken during pregnancy does not harm the foetus, affirms a recent study.
Ondansetron is an antiemetic drug commonly prescribed to treat nausea and
vomiting during pregnancy.
and vomiting are common during pregnancy. While most cases do not warrant
medications and can be managed conservatively, about 10 to 15% cases require
consultation with a doctor. Nausea and vomiting that sets in between 3 and 8
weeks of gestation, and peaks by weeks 7 to 12 in most cases. Since it is
during this period that the foetus is most susceptible to teratogenic effects
i.e. effects that could result in malformations, the choice of drugs is to be
made with great care. Ondansetron is one of the most frequently prescribed
drugs to treat nausea and vomiting. This antiemetic drug works by antagonizing
specific receptors called 5-hydroxytryptamine type 3 receptors.
the widespread use, the safety of this drug for the fetus was not been well
studied till recently. The drug was feared to be associated with an increased risk
of cleft palate. The recent study funded by the Danish Medical Research Council
analyzed a historical cohort of 608,385 pregnancies in Denmark. Women who were
exposed to ondansetron and those who were not exposed were included.
Ondansetron was not found out to have any significant
association with adverse outcomes such as spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, any
major birth defect, preterm delivery, infants with a low birth weight or
small-for-gestational-age size. The results were published in the Feb. 28 issue
of the New England Journal of Medicine
Many women are
hesitant to resort to drugs like ondansetron to control severe nausea and
vomiting during their first trimester of pregnancy. It is to be understood that
severe dehydration and other adverse physiological effects caused by
hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness) harm pregnancy if untreated.
The results of the recent study affirm the safety of ondansetron in these
Ondansetron in Pregnancy and Risk of Adverse Fetal Outcomes; Björn Pasternak et
al; N Engl J Med 2013; 368:814-823