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Israeli Researchers: Anti-Nausea Pregnancy Drug Safe for Fetus

An Israeli study found the anti-nausea drug metoclopramide does not significantly affect fetuses.
By Yehudah Lev Kay
First Publish: 6/14/2009, 3:33 PM / Last Update: 6/15/2009, 7:33 AM

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A large-scale Israeli study has found that the anti-nausea drug metoclopramide, sold in the U.S. under the brand name Reglan, does not significantly affect fetuses of women who take it during their first trimester of pregnancy. The study was published in the most recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Metoclopramid is commonly prescribed as an anti-nausea drug for pregnant women. It is used extensively in Europe and in Israel to treat the approximately 50-80 percent of women who have morning sickness during their first trimester of pregnancy.

Several smaller studies had already tested metoclopramid, but the current study was the largest to date, focusing on 81,703 births between 1998 and 2007 in Israel’s Negev. Approximately half of the births were to Muslim Bedouins and the other half were to Jewish Israelis.

The study found that 3,458 (4.2 percent) of the women were exposed to metoclopramid during the first trimester of their pregnancies. A statistical analysis found that the drug was not associated with significantly increased risks of major congenital malformations, low birth weight, preterm delivery, or perinatal death.

The authors concluded that “the data provide reassurance about the safety of metoclopramide use for nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy.”