Antihistamines For Hyperemesis: Risky Medication for Nausea

Talk with your doctor before taking any kind of medication while pregnant. Photo by: David Roseborough

Talk with your doctor before taking any kind of medication while pregnant. Photo by: David Roseborough

What did your doctor prescribe for hyperemesis nausea?

Some pregnant women will receive a diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum, a form of morning sickness. However, this isn’t just your normal, typical, morning sickness. Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is so severe that women often need to be treated in the hospital. Doctors believe that Hyperemesis gravidarum is caused by the increase in hormones that appear between four and six weeks of pregnancy and peak around nine to thirteen weeks.

At around 20 weeks, many women find relief in their symptoms; however, for about 20 percent of women with hyperemesis gravidarum, nausea and vomiting can last their entire pregnancy. Although there is no cure for hyperemesis, there are ways to manage it – doctors have prescribed antihistamines, for example. Researchers have found, however, that the use of antihistamines this can cause adverse outcomes for the baby, such as pre-term birth and low birthweight.

Hyperemesis Treatment: UCLA Study

In a study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, researchers found that pregnant women who took antihistamines for their hyperemesis symptoms were more likely to have adverse outcomes.

The six year study compared two groups of pregnant women; one group of 254 women with hyperemesis that needed intravenous fluids and compared them to another group of 308 pregnant women who had normal or no morning sickness with their pregnancies. Researchers discovered that the women with hyperemesis had more adverse outcomes than the women in the second group. Dr. Marlena Fejzo, lead author of the study then compared the women with hyperemesis who had good outcomes to women with hyperemesis who had adverse outcomes.

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Dr. Fejzo looked at over 35 different medications, and found that more than half of the women who had adverse outcomes in their pregnancy took antihistamines, like Unisom or Benadryl. The other downside is that it was unlikely to even work: Dr. Fejzo found that antihistamines only worked in less than 20 percent of the women that took them.

Click to Read Page Two: Interview with Dr. Fejzo

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  1. what are antihistamines for? says:

    Ok, antihistamines are like benadryl, right? So if mom can’t take it for nausea, can she take it for itchiness? Like, if she gets a bug bite or poison ivy or something? Isn’t that what antihistamines are actually for? Or are they some kind of anti-irritant?

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