When Zofran is prescribed to pregnant women, there are numerous types of birth defects infants are at risk of developing, including kidney defects. Approved only for use for cancer patients experiencing nausea and vomiting, Zofran is often prescribed as off-label use for morning sickness, despite its associations with birth defects.
Studies and Case Reports on Kidney Defects and Zofran
Many studies and case reports on Zofran have been done in recent years, in order to determine the effects the medication has on infants.
For example, an investigative report performed by a Canadian media company indicates that although results show that pregnant women who take Zofran are having infants with birth defects, it’s still being prescribed to them regularly. One of the main side effects indicated in the report is that of infant kidney defects.
According to the 2012 Canadian medical records uncovered by the investigators:
“At least 20 Canadian women treated with ondansetron for vomiting in pregnancy experienced serious suspected side-effects, including two infant deaths and multiple cases of newborns with heart defects and kidney malformations.”
In a 2013 study published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the results indicate that infants whose mothers were prescribed Zofran while pregnant have an increase of developing kidney defects more than six times when compared to pregnant women who don’t take the medication.
Another study performed by scientists and physicians at the University of Australia indicates that taking Zofran while pregnant increases the rates of birth defects, including kidney defects, by up to 20%.
The scientists and physicians studied more than 98,000 pregnancies in West Australia from 2002-2005. Results indicate that although 250 (.025% of the total patients studied) of the women took Zofran while pregnant, they had a 20% increase of having infants with birth defects, including kidney malformations.
Different Types of Kidney Defects
There are numerous types of kidney defects, ranging from mild to severe, that infants are risk of developing if their mothers took Zofran while pregnant.
The most common types of kidney defects include:
- Polycystic Kidney Disease: Cysts and/or fluid inside the kidneys
- Kidney Agenesis: One or both kidneys are missing at birth
- Ectopia: Kidneys form in an abnormal position
- Horseshoe Kidney: Both kidneys are joined together
- Malrotation: The kidneys form in the wrong position
- Medullary Sponge Kidney (MSK): Cyst dilation in one or both kidneys
- Fetal Hydronephrosis: One or both kidneys are too large
- Renal Tubular Acidosis: The kidneys cannot properly control the body’s amounts of acid
Symptoms of Kidney Defects
Infants will experience different symptoms depending on what type of kidney defect they have. It’s important to get regular medical checkups for your baby so that a physician can help rule out any additional problems.
The most common symptoms of kidney problems and defects, however, include:
- Edema (swelling around the eyes, in the feet, ankles, and face)
- High fever
- Excessive urination
- High blood pressure
- Blood in urine
- Poor appetite
- Extreme fatigue
Kidney Defects and Treatment Options
Treatment options will vary according to the type and the severity of the kidney defect. Treatment may consist of medication only and diet adjustments, whereas more serious issues may require surgery or dialysis treatment.
What to Do if Your Baby Was Born With Kidney Defects
The first thing to do if your baby is diagnosed with a kidney defect is to keep all medical appointments and maintain any medications given. In some instances, keep in mind, as mentioned earlier, you may need to prepare for your child to undergo surgery and other invasive types of treatments that are meant to help treat kidney issues as much as possible.
You’ll also want to consider seeking compensation to help pay for medical costs, pain, suffering, and more. GlaxoKlineSmith, the manufacturers of Zofran, knew the possibilities of birth defects if pregnant women are prescribed the medication, yet the company continued to promote it as an off-label use for morning sickness.
Furthermore, GlaxoKlineSmith, offered “kickbacks” to physicians who prescribed the medication to pregnant women. Yet, according to Charlie Ornstein, of the news publication, ProPublica, giving kickbacks to doctors is illegal.
“It’s illegal to give kickbacks to a doctor to prescribe drugs, but it is legal to give money to doctors to help promote your drug. Some doctors make tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year beyond their normal practice just for working with the industry.”
The Importance of a Zofran Attorney
An experienced Zofran attorney can provide you with the best chances of successfully winning your case. Zofran lawyers differ from other attorneys in that they specifically specialize in cases that involve dangerous prescription drugs. A dedicated Zofran lawyer can help you win compensation for:
- Medical costs
- Transportation costs to and from hospitals and doctor appointments
- Lost wages and/or caregiver expenses (if applicable)
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish, and more
For more information on Zofran attorneys, refer to our article Zofran Lawyer.