Pregnant Women at Risk for Birth Defects, Heart Disorders

As if women didn’t have enough on their plate, a majority of them suffer from what is euphemistically called “morning sickness” but which can actually strike at any time of the day, even all day for some unlucky ones. For most women, though, the nausea and vomiting is worse in the morning and then tapers off during the day.

Most people consider the miseries that a woman going through a lot of hormonal problems during pregnancy as fleeting, and in most cases for morning sickness at least, it is all over by the 14th week. Sufferers still feel miserable, but at least it is usually mild and short term. There are also indications that morning sickness is a way to protect the developing fetus from whatever toxins that may be in the mother’s body.

However, there are cases where the nausea and vomiting are severe enough to be life-threatening. This happens to about 1% of all women who get pregnant, and it is definitely not something that you can just ride. The biggest danger of prolonged and persistent nausea and vomiting is dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which can cause certain organs to shut down if it gets bad enough. In such cases, the attending physician will most likely prescribe an antiemetic.

An antiemetic is a drug that blocks certain receptors in the brain which can trigger nausea. Zofran (ondansetron) is one such drug that blocks the reception of serotonin, but it is approved only for the use in treating nausea caused by chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. However, as the manufacturer claims it is safe for use in pregnant women, physicians have prescribed it for severe pregnancy-related nausea.

This may turn out to be a serious mistake. According to the website of Williams Kherkher, attorneys who handle Zofran cases, there is strong indication that Zofran may lead to birth defects in the fetus as well as an irregular heart rhythm (QT interval prolongation) for the mother which under the stress of childbirth can cause sudden death.

As if pregnant women didn’t have enough to deal with.