“Ozempic babies”: surprise pregnancies raise questions

“Ozempic babies”: surprise pregnancies raise questions
“Ozempic babies”: surprise pregnancies raise questions

This is the case of Catera Bentley. The woman, who lives in Steel, Alabama, became pregnant five months after she started taking Mounjaro for weight loss. Ms. Bentley and her husband had been trying to have a child for over two years, but the process was difficult due to Ms. Bentley’s history of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

During the first months of taking the medication, Catera Bentley lost around 40 pounds, her menstrual cycles — irregular due to PCOS — became normal and she even felt “happier,” she said. at CNN.

“I felt like a new person. I was in a better mood every day,” she explained, adding that she hoped losing weight would help her get pregnant. When her wish came true — sooner than expected — however, she worried about the effects it might have on her baby.

No studies regarding pregnancy

“We don’t know the effects of early exposure on the fetus,” Dr. Jody Dushay, a physician specializing in endocrinology and metabolism at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and assistant professor at Harvard, confirmed to CNN. Medical School.

Dr. Dushay recommends that women stop taking these medications two months before trying to get pregnant, as their instructions for use indicate.

Ozempic and Mounjaro are part of a class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists, which work by mimicking hormones in the gut involved in regulating insulin and appetite. They are both approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and each has two sister drugs approved for weight loss: Wegovy in the case of Ozempic and Zepbound for Mounjaro.

Clinical trials have shown that these medications help patients lose 15 to 20 percent of their body weight, on average. Due to the way GLP-1 drugs work, experts believe they may lead to more pregnancies and caution should be exercised when using them early in pregnancy.

“On the one hand, weight loss may generally be associated with increased fertility by restoring normal ovulation in people with PCOS or other causes of abnormal cycles,” said Dr. Daniel Drucker, professor and researcher at Mount Sinai Hospital at the University of Toronto and pioneer of GLP-1 research at CNN.

Additionally, the prescribing information for Mounjaro and Zepbound contains a warning that they may make birth control pills less effective.

Although GLP-1 drugs may increase fertility, little is known about their safety during pregnancy. The drug’s makers, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, excluded from their clinical trials people who were pregnant or planning to become pregnant, a common practice when testing new drugs.

See also: “Not enough Ozempic products”: professionals are looking for alternatives

Document “incidents” for the future

However, specialists document “incidents” in order to obtain more and more available information.

“The more these drugs are used, the more women will become pregnant while taking them, and so we will accumulate data on the risk of exposure in early pregnancy,” Dr. Dushay told CNN. In other words, “we collect data on ‘accidents,’ as we do for most drugs.”

Furthermore, the few studies available on babies whose mothers took GLP-1 early in pregnancy have not revealed major cause for concern, although the researchers note that additional studies are needed — and that they are in progress.

“Studies carried out on animals, however, have called for caution,” Dr. Drucker told CNN. “If the animals receive high doses of these drugs, the babies born to mice and rats are very often small and sometimes have malformations.” Dr. Drucker also referenced an animal study suggesting that GLP-1 drugs may reduce the number of proteins responsible for transferring nutrients from mother to fetus, often found in the placenta.

Novo Nordisk has set up a registry in which it collects data on the safety of Wegovy during pregnancy.

An Eli Lilly spokesperson told CNN the company also plans to open a pregnancy registry for Zepbound, which was approved late last year.

The fact remains that it is difficult to measure the effects of weight loss medications on pregnancy.

“At present, it is unfortunately very difficult to study the effects of these drugs on fertility, as this involves exposing women to a drug with a high risk of pregnancy during exposure to the drug and the risks for the baby have not yet been fully analyzed,” Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, head of research at Eli Lilly, told CNN.

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