Here's some news that's easy to stomach: Zofran (generic name: ondansetron), a drug commonly prescribed to treat nausea and vomiting in cancer patients, also appears to be safe for use during pregnancy, according to a new study that found no evidence of harm to developing babies when moms-to-be took the medication for relief from extreme morning sickness.
As for the nitty gritty? The study, conducted in Denmark, examined health records from more than 600,000 women pregnant between 2004 and 2011. Despite the fact that almost 2,000 of these women were prescribed ondansetron to treat their morning sickness, researchers found no evidence that using the medication increased their risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery or having a child with a major birth defect.
In other words, "It's effective and it's safe," Dr. Iffath Hoskins, a high-risk pregnancy specialist at NYU Langone Medical Center and a spokeswoman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, tells the Associated Press.
In the United States, where it's estimated that one in 10 pregnant women experience early pregnancy nausea and vomiting severe enough to warrant taking medication, ondansetron is one of a handful of prescription drugs that has emerged in the past few decades as a treatment of choice for those moms-to-be who just can't keep anything down. Much the same as this latest study found, the FDA classifies ondansetron as a pregnancy class B drug, meaning the drug does not appear to cause fetal harm.
"This is a drug we've been using for a while," Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, tells HealthDay. "It can help keep women out of the hospital, and help keep them functioning on a day-to-day basis."
Still, when it comes to prescription meds and pregnancy, some moms will remain somewhat suspicious.
"I get that a woman may need this because she's really, really suffering, but I'm also a little leery because of how quickly things can change with prescription drugs. First, they're safe, then they're not," says Monique Weller, a mom of two from Virginia, adding, "If it were me, I would not go by a study to make a decision. I would want to hear straight from my doctor that this isn't going to hurt my baby—and that there is nothing else that's going to work."
But Wisconsin mom Joanne Dennis is taking the other side on this one. When she ended up in the hospital as the result of hyperemisis (severe morning sickness), she was glad that anything could help. "I had lost so much weight and was so dehydrated and really scared that I was going to miscarry because I was malnourished. To me, being in that state was way riskier than what my doctor explained to me about the different medications used to treat hyperemisis."
As Dennis realized during her ordeal, "I am one of those people who usually hates taking any kind of medication, but it's good to know that when the ginger ale and crackers, and whatever other remedies are out there, don't work at all, you do have other choices."