For many women pregnancy causes some unpleasant symptoms such as morning sickness (in up to 90 percent of women), and it is becoming quite popular to take pharmaceuticals for it.
Anti-nausea medicine is full of side-effects such as muscle trembling, breathing problems, and even losing consciousness — and most of the time it is unnecessary as nausea can be treated with ginger and peppermint tea. But what’s more dangerous is that doctors are prescribing these toxic drugs to pregnant women, when they were never tested on them.
One such story is of a child of Marquita Smiley. Marquita’s doctor prescribed her Zofran, an anti-nausea medicine for cancer patients that is sometimes given for morning sickness, which she took 2-3 times a week, reported Pro Publica.
In the fifth month of pregnancy, an ultrasound showed that the baby’s hearing was underdeveloped. Just three days later her son Zaidan was born, and had to go through open-heart surgery and four-months in a hospital just to stay alive.
Later Smiley found out that there was a TV ad going around claiming that Zofran causes serious congenital heart problems and other birth defects. Zofran manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline denied the claims — but how would they know when the drug was never tested on or approved for pregnant women?
While Marquita might never know for sure if it was Zofran that caused her son’s birth defect, most research is pointing that way. But what is more important is that she says she would never have taken a drug that was not tested for pregnant women if she knew. Without proper testing, it is impossible to know what health effects the drug might have on the fetus.
“I would not have placed him at risk,” she said.
Most Drugs, Never Tested for Pregnancy, Prescribed “Off-Label”
It is not just Zofran that is being prescribed “off-label,” meaning it is used for something it has never been tested for. In fact, most drugs have never been tested for pregnant women, therefore doctors are playing a dangerous guessing game when prescribing them to pregnant patients.
Issues with that can be seen throughout modern medicine history.
Thalidomide was a sleeping pill that was prescribed in the 1950s for morning sickness. It caused miscarriages and birth defects, and was banned in the 1960s.
Diethylstilbestrol (DES) was prescribed since 1938 for preventing miscarriages and premature labor. The drug later showed an increased risk for vaginal and breast cancers in women who took the drug (up to 10 million) and their daughters.
It is unfortunate that more than 50 years later the situation has not changed. Only eight drugs have been currently approved by the FDA to use during pregnancy; every other drug ever prescribed is “off-label,” unstudied and potentially risky.
Researchers have called pregnant women “therapeutic orphans” because they have to rely on taking pharmaceuticals without knowing the risks associated with them.
This is especially dangerous during the early stages of fetus development. As many as 9 out of 10 women take medication during their pregnancy, while less than 10% of these drugs have any information on the safety and risks associated with prenatal use.
If you choose to take medication during pregnancy, question your doctors about if the drugs they are prescribing have been studied for prenatal use. If not there might be alternative drugs that were studied, or better yet alternative therapies that can be used under the care of a naturopathic physician.
When choosing alternative medicine, supplements, and herbs, do consult a naturopathic doctor, because herbs are powerful and can be of great help, but a few can cause side effects during pregnancy if you’re not careful.