Zofran’s Risks May Not Be Worth the Relief

GlaxoSmithKline’s powerful anti-nausea medication Zofran, approved only for patients undergoing chemotherapy or recovering from surgery, has been prescribed in an off-label manner by doctors to pregnant women to alleviate morning sickness symptoms—but at an enormous price. Concern is mounting over the increased number of prescriptions doctors are writing for expectant mothers, and whether or not doctors truly know—and  are relaying—the risks associated with the medicine, which include cleft palate and congenital heart defects for newborns. A 2011 study highlighted in the Toronto Star suggested that Zofran in fact doubles the risk of cleft palate in newborns. The Star also noted that the first trimester, when most women experience nausea, is when these defects most often occur, as it is the most critical time for fetal development.

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