When large doses of omeprazole (one of the active ingredients in Zegerid) were given to pregnant rabbits, the medication appeared to increase the risk of miscarriages. The FDA considers this drug a pregnancy Category C medication, so it may not be safe for use during pregnancy. Although Zegerid may be prescribed in situations where the benefits outweigh the risks, there are likely safer medications that your healthcare provider can recommend.
Can Pregnant Women Take Zegerid?
Zegerid® (omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate) is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medication. It is available as a prescription-only drug and also as a nonprescription drug (Zegerid OTC™). It is not yet clear if this medication is safe for use during pregnancy.
What Is Pregnancy Category C?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a pregnancy category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category C is given to medicines that have not been studied in pregnant humans, but do appear to cause harm to the fetus in animal studies. Also, medicines that have not been adequately studied in pregnant women or animals are automatically given a pregnancy Category C rating.
When given to pregnant rabbits at high doses, omeprazole (one of the active ingredients in Zegerid) increased the risk of miscarriages. However various observational studies in humans suggest that omeprazole may be safe for use in pregnant women, although these studies may not have been sufficient to detect rare or minor problems.
Esomeprazole is an isomer of omeprazole, which is found in Zegerid. When esomeprazole was given to pregnant rats at high doses, fewer offspring survived after birth. The surviving pups had developmental delays, abnormal bone growth, and poor weight. Also, pregnant and nursing rats that were given high doses of esomeprazole lost bone mass, which is consistent with the possible effects of the drug on calcium absorption (it can decrease calcium absorption).
A pregnancy Category C medicine should be given to a pregnant woman only if the healthcare provider believes that the benefits to the pregnant woman outweigh any possible risks to the unborn child. If you require treatment with a heartburn medication during pregnancy, it is likely that your healthcare provider might suggest an alternative medication that is safer for use during pregnancy.
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