Nausea Medication During Pregnancy Not Linked to Malformations

First Posted: Oct 16, 2013 10:05 AM EDT

A new finding published in the October issue of JAMA states that medication taken for nausea during pregnancy is not linked to increased risk of major malformations.

The study looked at the nausea medicine metoclopramide taken during pregnancy. They investigated the association between the drug use and pregnancy in 40,000 women. On analyzing  they concluded that the use of metoclopramide during pregnancy was not linked with any significant rise in major congenital malformations, spontaneous abortion or still birth.

During the early stages of pregnancy, nearly 50 percent of the women experience nausea and vomiting, out of which 10-15 perecent of the women receive drug treatment to cure them from the nausea.

If treatment with antihistamine or vitamin B6 fails, doctors recommend the use of metoclopramide. Despite this drug being used commonly in pregnancy induced nausea, the data on the safety of this drug is limited,

To investigate the safety of the drug, researcher Bjorn Pasternak, M.D., Ph.D., of the Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, and colleagues examined the data of 1,222,503 pregnancies in Denmark from 1997-2011 and compared outcomes for women who used metoclopramide to those who did not.

The researchers noticed that nearly 28,486  infants were exposed to metoclopramide in the first trimester of the pregnancy and nearly 113,698 infants were unexposed to the drug. Of these, nearly 721 infants and 3,024 infants were diagnosed with major malformations during the first year of life.

On analyzing the individual malformation categories, the researchers saw no link between the use of drug in first trimester and the over 20 malformations, including neural tube defects, cleft lip, cleft palate and limb reduction.

Apart from this, the researchers observed no increased risk of low birth weight, fetal growth, preterm birth, spontaneous abortion and still birth.

The authors conclude, "These safety data may help inform decision making when treatment with metoclopramide is considered in pregnancy." 

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