But, the current study focused only on short-term use during pregnancy, and Levy said that use of metoclopramide in pregnancy is "usually for short terms and as needed."
For the study, the researchers reviewed 81,703 births between 1998 and 2007, all to mothers registered with a particular Israeli health system that has a computerized database of medical information. From that group, 3,458 women -- 4.2 percent -- were given metoclopramide during the first trimester of their pregnancies.
The study found no significantly increased health risks for babies of women exposed to the drug compared with the offspring of women who hadn't taken it. The risk of birth defects, for instance, was 5.3 percent in the metoclopramide group and 4.9 percent in the group not exposed to the drug. The researchers also found no significantly increased risk of low birth weight, premature delivery or fetal death.
"We worry about women with extensive nausea and vomiting during pregnancy," said Dr. Eva Pressman, director of maternal fetal medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. "There's concern about dehydration and losing weight. The largeness of this study is clearly better than anything we've had to date on the safety of metoclopramide, and it shows that there are safe medications that you can use in pregnancy."
Pregnant women who are having morning sickness shouldn't just suffer through it, Pressman said. Instead, she said, talk to a doctor about ways to lessen the stomach upset.
The March of Dimes has more on coping with nausea during pregnancy.
SOURCES: Amalia Levy, Ph.D., senior lecturer, Department of Epidemiology and Health Service Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel; Eva Pressman, M.D., directo
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