Medical, Social and Legal Implications of Treating Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy
Robert L. Brent, duPont Hosp for Children

DATE: January 2002
SOURCE: Obstetrics & Gynecology, vol186, iss5, pp. S262-S266

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This article will deal with medical, social, and legal implications of treating nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP). Clinical problems occur when the symptoms become exaggerated and result in debilitation, dehydration, and hospitalization. The treatment of NVP in its early stages has the implication that it will prevent the more serious complications, including hospitalization. Therapeutic modalities discussed in this conference that have been used or are being tested are primarily symptomatic treatments (antihistamines, Bendectin (Merrell Dow; Cincinatti, Ohio), phenothiazines, hyponosis, accupressure, relaxation behavioral modification, audiogenic feedback training, newer medications, diet, and nutritional support). Bendectin is probably the most studied medication with regard to its reproductive effects, and the studies clearly demonstrate that therapeutic doses of Bendectin have no measurable reproductive risks to the mother or the fetus. In spite of Bendectin's record of safety, numerous nonmeritorious congenital malformation lawsuits were filed and went to trial, and that junk science was presented at these trials. The Bendectin era focused our attention on thr area kof nonmeritorious litigation and junk science, which could have an effect on any new or less well-studied therapies, because such a high percentage of women are treated for NVP. Because 3% of the offspring will be affected with birth defects, the potential for litigation is immense. The solutions are (1) for legal problems, the medical community should focus their attention on junk scientists and their junk science, over which physicians should have some authority, and (2) for the treatment problem, it would seem most logical that a major research effort should be directed toward brain receptors that are involved in these physiologic effects. Furthermore, it would be imperative to study the array of molecules, both natural and manufactured, that can interact with these receptors for the amelioration ofnausea. Until we understand the mechanism and specific therapy for NVP, it would appear that the reintroduction of Bendectin is the logical intermediate course to follow. We should also accompany the introduction of Bendectin with an educational campaign with regard to the lack of reproductive risks for this medication. The Food and Drug Administration has set the stage for the reintroduction of Bendectin by republishing their conclusion that Bendectin does not represent an increase in reproductive risks to the fetuses of pregnant women.