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Fetal growth restriction, also know as Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), is one of the many birth defects that’s been associated with pregnant women using Zofran. Although Zofran is only approved for chemotherapy patients experiencing nausea, many doctors prescribed the medication for off-label for morning sickness.

What is Fetal Growth Restriction?

Fetal growth restriction occurs when an infant fails to grow properly in the womb before birth. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an infant with fetal growth restriction is at risk of dying before birth, depending on how severe the growth restriction is.
Fetal growth restriction

If an infant is born with fetal growth restriction, mothers typically go through a strenuous labor and delivery, which is usually a C-section.

Medical problems may also occur after the infant is born, but again it will depend on the severity of the birth defect as well as the infant’s size when born. The smaller the baby is, the more likely there will be medical concerns. Common medical conditions that occur with fetal growth restriction include:

  • Low Apgar scores
  • Low blood sugar
  • Meconium aspiration
  • High red blood cell count
  • Developmental delays (see more information below)

How Fetal Growth Restriction Occurs

Sometimes fetal growth restriction happens for no reason. A healthy mother who does not smoke, drink, and who maintains a healthy diet while pregnant may still have a baby with fetal growth restriction. Studies are still ongoing in the medical community to learn more about how fetal growth restriction occurs.

However, there are numerous things that can increase the risk of fetal growth restriction, including:

  • Maternal medical conditions
  • Smoking, drinking, and/or taking illegal drugs while pregnant
  • Placental problems
  • Malnutrition
  • Chromosomal issues
  • Maternal weight issues (being underweight or overweight)
  • Living in high altitude levels

Taking Zofran during pregnancy also increases the risk of fetal growth restriction. As mentioned earlier, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Zofran for cancer patients only. It’s unauthorized off-label use by pregnant women is highly dangerous and can cause not only fetal growth restriction, but a host of other dangerous birth defects.

For more information on additional birth defects associated with Zofran, refer to our article Zofran Birth Defects.

Fetal Growth Restriction and Developmental Delays

Fetal growth restriction is closely linked to developmental delays, including “failure to thrive,” a condition marked by an infant being smaller than the height and weight for his/her age group.

As the infant grows older, other developmental delays may occur, such as not learning to walk or difficulties with speech. Developmental delays cover a wide spectrum and can range from mild to severe. It’s important to work closely with your child’s pediatrician, who can help you with diet needs, physical therapy, and other services your child may need.

Prognosis for Fetal Growth Restriction

The long-term outlook for babies will fetal growth restriction will greatly depend upon its severity. Most babies will go on to thrive and may eventually catch up to a normal growth rate.

However, some infants may need to go to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the hospital, where they can be monitored. While in NICU, babies typically undergo a series of testing, including hearing and sight exams.

In addition, physicians will closely monitor infants for disorders such as cerebral palsy issue that may hinder growth and development. Only a small number of babies with fetal growth restriction will develop cerebral palsy, but since the risk is there, infants in NICU will be closely monitored.

What to Do if Your Baby Has Fetal Growth Restriction

If you were prescribed Zofran while pregnant and you baby was born with fetal growth restriction or any other birth defect, you may be eligible for compensation to cover medical expenses, pain, suffering, and more.

Numerous women who have babies with birth defects have already filed claims against GlaxoKlineSmith, the manufacturers of Zofran. Keep in mind, however, that other factors will be considered when determining if you have a valid case, such as genetic factors and your lifestyle habits while pregnant.

The best course of action is to obtain legal representation from an experienced Zofran lawyer who can explain your option and help you get the justice you’re entitled to.

For more information on Zofran attorneys, refer to our article Zofran Lawyer.