Pregnancy, Zofran & Severe Morning Sickness

Using Zofran During Pregnancy

The drug Ondansetron (later branded Zofran) was developed in 1984 to reduce the nausea and vomiting of chemotherapy patients. Zofran has been so effective in reducing nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients that doctors have begun prescribing it for severe morning sickness.

Is Zofran Safe for Pregnant Women?

While Zofran appears to be effective in treating nausea and vomiting caused by severe morning sickness, with mostly mild side effects (see below), there is no conclusive research to prove that it doesn't harm the mother or the developing baby. Depending on the severity of the morning sickness, it may be in the best interest of the mother and child to take Zofran. Please learn as much as you can about Zofran, and alternatives before you make a decision.

Symptoms of Severe Morning Sickness

A small percentage of pregnant women (1% to 3%) suffer from a much more severe type of morning sickness than others. This condition is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). It is very important to detect the signs of hyperemesis gravidarum as early as possible. You should consult a qualified medical professional if you are vomiting more than three times a day, are unable to retain any fluids you drink, and are progressively losing weight. Below is a list of common symptoms. Please check your own symptoms against this list.

  • Severe and persistent vomiting
  • Dehydration - signs of dehydration listed below:
    • Ketones in urine (you can easily test yourself with Ketostix - available online)
    • Decreased blood pressure
    • Increased heart rate
    • Pinched skin returns slowly.
    • Flushed dry skin
    • Dry eyes
    • Dry Mouth
    • Coated tongue
    • Trouble thinking clearly/confusion
    • Decreased urination
    • Dark urine
  • Loss of weight - anything over 5% of your pre-pregnancy weight
  • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty eating and drinking
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea aggravated by physical temperature extremes
  • Increase in saliva resulting in difficult swallowing
  • Slow or inpaired thinking
  • Decrease in attention span
  • Blood electrolyte levels abnormal
  • Decreased Motivation
  • Decreased physical performance
  • Increased anxiety
  • Symptoms aggravated by motions
  • Poor skin tone
  • Dry, shrunken tongue
  • Need for intravenous nutrition
  • Aching eyeballs, difficulty focusing, rapid vision changes
  • Boredom

How Zofran Works

Zofran is an antiemetic which means it is effective in stopping nausea and vomiting. It works by blocking the hormone serotonin which causes vomiting.

Zofran Side Effects

Possible side effects from taking Zofran are (see official Zofran site: http://us.gsk.com/products/assets/us_zofran_tablets.pdf)

  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • fever
  • malaise/fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness

Some women have found this drug to be a miracle which allowed them to have a better pregnancy because they were able to stay hydrated and nourished. Hyperemesis Gravidarum can be devastating for the woman and possible to the baby when the woman is unable to keep anything down and has to be hospitalized for intravenous feeding. Some say taking Zofran as well as Phenergan has been helpful.

Precautions for Taking Zofran Talk to your doctor and together examine your medical history so he will know if you have or have had any of these problems which may affect your being able to take zofran. Do not drive while taking Zofran.

  • Stomach/intestinal problems
  • Liver disease
  • Allergies

Breastfeeding and Zofran

In some of the animal trials they found that Zofram was transferred to the mothers milk which would mean that it should not be taken while nursing.

How to Save Money Buying Discount Zofran

Zofran (aka Ondansetron) is very expensive and many insurance companies will not cover the cost of Zofran. However, there are generic brands of Zofran - just ask your doctor for the generic brand of ondansetron. The high cost of Zofran can make it difficult for women who desperately need the drug. Also it seems that a few doctors are reluctant to prescribe it.

Alternative Drugs for Nausea

  • Emitrol (no prescription needed)
  • Bendectin (available in Canada as Dicletin or you can buy the ingredients separately and combine them)

Note: the FDA has now declared that the combination of ingredients in Bendectin are ""safe and effective for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy."

How to Check FDA Pregnancy Risk Ratings on Any Drug

SafeFetus.com is specifically designed to help pregnant women make educated choices about taking medications. You can quickly lookup the following information for any drug:

  • Generic Names
  • Trade Name
  • Manufacturer
  • FDA Risk Category
  • Indication
  • Fetal Risk
  • Breast Feeding Precautions - including whether the drug is passed from the mother's milk to the nursing baby
The name of the site is SafeFetus.com.