Weight-Loss Drug Ozempic Linked to Potential Birth Defects, Study Finds

Ozempic, a popular weight-loss drug, may cause birth defects, leading experts to warn women to avoid it during pregnancy and use contraception if taking it.

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Waqas Arain
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Weight-Loss Drug Ozempic Linked to Potential Birth Defects, Study Finds

Weight-Loss Drug Ozempic Linked to Potential Birth Defects, Study Finds

A recent study has raised concerns about the safety of the popular weight-loss drug Ozempic (semaglutide) during pregnancy, with findings suggesting it may cause birth defects.

The drug, which has been widely prescribed for obesity and type 2 diabetes treatment, is also being used "off label" to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of infertility in women.

Doctors have reported a rise in unexpected pregnancies among women taking Ozempic, dubbed "Ozempic babies." However, scientists are now warning that these weight-loss injections may pose risks to fetal development and should be avoided by anyone hoping to become pregnant. The study found that animal babies born to mothers given medications containing semaglutide had developmental problems.

Why this matters: The potential link between Ozempic and birth defects raises significant concerns for women of childbearing age who are prescribed the drug for weight loss or diabetes management. The findings emphasize the importance of thoroughly evaluating the safety of medications during pregnancy and ensuring patients are fully informed of the risks.

British experts have advised women taking Ozempic to use contraception and stop the medication at least two months before trying to conceive. They cautioned against using the drug as a fertility treatment and instead recommended non-pharmaceutical approaches to weight loss before pregnancy.

GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic have not been extensively tested for safety in human pregnancy, and animal studies have shown potential complications and abnormalities. While these drugs can aid in weight loss and improve fertility in women with conditions like PCOS, their safety and effectiveness during pregnancy have not been established.

Researchers are conducting independent studies to better understand the effects of GLP-1 drugs on fertility and pregnancy outcomes, as pharmaceutical companies have not systematically investigated this aspect. The FDA has requested that companies set up registries to collect data on pregnancies occurring during treatment, but results are not yet available.

Experts emphasize the importance of planned and healthy pregnancies, advising women on these medications to use reliable contraception and discontinue the drugs well in advance of attempting to conceive. "The 'oops babies' on these weight loss drugs are happening frequently, and researchers are working to better understand the implications for women's health and fertility," stated Dr. Sarah Johnson, a leading reproductive health specialist.

Key Takeaways

  • Ozempic may cause birth defects, raising concerns for pregnant women.
  • Unexpected pregnancies among Ozempic users, dubbed "Ozempic babies".
  • Animal studies show developmental problems in babies born to Ozempic-treated mothers.
  • Experts advise Ozempic users to use contraception and stop 2 months before conception.
  • Lack of safety data on GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic during pregnancy.