Your morning sickness while you're pregnant makes it nearly impossible for you to leave the house. You're miserable for weeks, and you still have months to go. You start looking into medications that can stop you from vomiting and end this ever-present nausea.
That's how you find Zofran. It's often used after chemotherapy, surgery or radiation treatment. Can you take it while you're pregnant?
Battling morning sickness
Because it is so effective, some doctors have told women to take Zofran in the past. It is just the brand name for ondansetron, which blocks serotonin in the body. Since serotonin can cause vomiting and nausea, this can lead to relief. It is typically given out as a rapidly disintegrating tablet (ODT), an oral tablet, an injection or a liquid.
As such, this is a medication that works. But is it safe? Should you actually take it while pregnant, or will you harm the unborn baby?
One of the issues here is that there is simply a lack of safety data. As experts noted: "[There are] no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women."
This does not mean it's safe, however, but only that we do not yet know enough about the impact to say for sure one way or the other.
Officials in the United States do allow the use of this drug when it is "clearly needed." They do recommend that people use caution. Users must carefully monitor how much they take and they must only use it when necessary, they say.
However, the drug is not recommended in the United Kingdom. The same is true in Australia. Why is it that the United States is a bit more relaxed about it? Does this indicate potential issues that other countries have been more proactive in banning?
The breastfeeding risk
There is also a risk for new mothers who are breastfeeding their children. Again, in the United Kingdom and Australia, authorities do not recommend using Zofran while breastfeeding. And, once again, the United States simply says to exercise caution.
As of now, authorities technically do not know if the drug passes to the baby through the mother's milk. They also do not know exactly what impact this can have on an infant.
That said, the reason they "do not know" is again a lack of data. They have done animal studies and found that the drug is excreted into the animal's milk. While they do not know if the same thing happens in humans, it stands to reason that it's possible. If so, is it safe to pass such a powerful drug directly to a very young child?
As you can see, Zofran comes with a lot of questions and potential risks. Make sure you are well aware of all of your rights if you used it before or after pregnancy.