Study Finds Anti-Nausea Drug Zofran Won't Harm a Fetus

There's good news for pregnant women suffering with morning sickness bad enough to need to take a prescription medication for it. A very large study from Denmark finds no evidence that using the popular anti-nausea drug Zofran during pregnancy will harm the babies.

One in 10 pregnant women will suffer nausea and vomiting that is bad enough to need medication, but many skip it out of fear of possible side effects. Currently there are no drugs approved for morning sickness in the U.S., but doctors are free to prescribe what they feel is best.

GlaxoSmithKline's Zofran and its generic equivalent has so far been doctor's top choice for treating the worst cases of morning sickness. It is primarily used for treating nausea from cancer treatment and other causes.

Women have been leery of using Zofran due to a small study that previously suggested that it could raise the risk of a particular birth defect - cleft palate.

This new study looked at more than 600,000 pregnancies in Denmark, and did not find evidence of major birth-related problems. The researchers looked at nationwide health registries to compare the rates of miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects, preterm delivery and low birth weight babies among women who used Zofran during pregnancy and those who did not. The researchers also looked separately at use during the first trimester, which is when risks to the developing fetus are at their highest.

Zofran was used in 1,970 of the 608,385 pregnancies looked at. The study looked at birth defects collectively, and the researchers noted that they cannot rule out the higher risk of specific ones, but their incidence is very small.

The study was paid for by the Danish Medical Research Council.