Ondansetron, commonly known as Zofran, is a drug created to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Ondansetron is commonly used off label to treat the symptoms of morning sickness after other remedies have failed. Which leads me to the question is Zofran and pregnancy safe?
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Is Zofran and Pregnancy Safe?
The answer to the question “is Zofran and pregnancy safe?” is not straightforward. Here’s what we know…
- Zofran is a pregnancy category B medication.
- In the 1970s Zofran was taken off the market for use with morning sickness due to studies that showed a link to the birth defect of cleft palate.
- A Denmark study showed that ondansetron, when taken during pregnancy, was not associated with a significantly increased risk of adverse fetal outcomes.
- However, there have been other studies that have also found a small association with Zofran, cleft palate and other birth defects. (Their conclusion coincides with mine, in that ondansetron (Zofran) used during pregnancy needs further investigation.)
- A 2016 study showed no adverse outcomes, but actually lower rates of miscarriages, terminations and higher rates of live births.
- In 2013 the US Department of Justice collected $3 million from GlaxoSmithKline “after it sued the company for unlawful promotion and failure to report safety data on a number of its drugs, Zofran included”.
- As of 2016 GlaxoSmithKline is in litigation with more than 200 families facing allegations that babies developed birth defects after being exposed to Zofran in the womb.
Risks vs. Benefits
In a perfect world, women would have completely natural pregnancies, births and postpartums and would not need extra help from pharmaceutical medications. Reality is, however, that sometimes not taking a drug is more dangerous than taking it. Here’s what I mean…
Typically, the risks, side effects and what goes along with a medication far outweighs the benefits of a medication. But sometimes, the opposite is true.
If a woman is so sick from pregnancy that she cannot eat or drink she will become dehydrated and mal-nourished. If this continues, her and her baby’s life become at risk.
When comparing the risks of Zofran (birth defects like cleft palate) versus the risks of not taking Zofran (death) it’s obvious which is worse (death). For severe cases of morning sickness, or hyperemesis gravidarum in this case, the benefits of Zofran possibly outweigh the risks of Zofran.
This is when having an excellent relationship with your care provider is crucial. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking Zofran.
TIP: Use the BRAIN acronym tool to get the most information to make an informed decision.
Zofran’s Most Likely Side Effect
If you decide that ondansetron would be helpful for you and your family, do know that constipation is the most likely side effect you will experience.
Many women have found relief by increasing fiber in their diets and by taking other over the counter products like stool softeners and fiber supplements.
- Please be aware that Colace, a common stool softener, is a pregnancy category C medication.
- Metamucil, a common fiber supplement, is a pregnancy category B medication.
- Please read more about pregnancy drug categories to make the best informed choice for you and your family.
If you and/or your doctor are not comfortable with taking additional medications to combat the side effect of constipation, try these tips.
TIP: Drink more water and eat fiber rich foods.
TIP: Shop mainly in the produce section of your grocery store.
TIP: Eat less processed foods like breads, rice, cereals and pasta.
Your Experience with Zofran and Pregnancy
Are you taking Zofran to combat morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum? Have you taken it in a previous pregnancy? What was your experience with Zofran and pregnancy? Did you notice any side effects?
Leave me a comment! I’d love to hear from you. ♥
Monday 16th of September 2019
I lost my baby and I blame Zoltan! You can’t blind me with your scare tactics.
Monday 16th of September 2019
I'm so, so sorry for your loss. :(
Tuesday 6th of November 2018
I took zofran when I was pregnant with my son. He was born with a Ventricular Septal Defect. He needed open heart surgery at 8 months old. I will never take zofran again. I refused that and anything but unison and b6 for my nausea this pregnancy.
Friday 9th of August 2019
This happened to my sister-in-law and nephew. Baby was born with heart defects, cleft palate, and not all of his fingers and toes. He's 4 now and has had over a dozen surgeries to repair it all. Not worth the risk.
Thursday 1st of February 2018
I took zofran during both of my pregnancies in 2004 and 2006 . My first pregnancy, I had true hyperemesis and couldn’t hold anything down. My second pregnancy, I didn’t always vomit , but vomited occasionally and I could never predict when I would need to.( like I’d be walking around the mall and suddenly need to vomit immediately. ). I found the zofran more helpful during my second pregnancy then the first. And my kids were both born healthy and free of any defect.
How to Stop Throwing Up During Labor | Mother Rising
Saturday 7th of January 2017
[…] However, sometimes Zantac isn’t enough and medicines like Zofran or Phenergan are needed. From what I’ve heard, the biggest complaint with Phenergan is constipation. To read more about Zofran head on over here. […]
Tuesday 6th of December 2016
I am currently suffering from hyperemesis, and also had the same condition in my previous pregnancy 7 years ago. I have been prescribed zofran but only taking it while extremely nauseated. I was also prescribed zofran during my previous pregnancy which I took on more of a regular basis because my symptoms were intensely worse , but thankfully I gave birth to a happy , healthy, and highly intelligent baby boy. I have. It noticed any bad side affects as of yet. I also knew a woman who had a zofran pump inserted into her abdomen during her entire pregnancy which would would give automatic doses of the prescription around the clock; she as well had happy healthy babies. Hope that helps anyone who is struggling thru hyperemesis. I wish you the best of luck , I know how truly difficult the condition is.