Posted on

Viagra Given To Pregnant Women

Viagra Given To Pregnant Women

By Cathy Daub PT, CCE and CD(BWI)

I am saddened as I read the new headline in today’s news.

Eleven babies die after Dutch women given Viagra in drug trial.  Research halted as 10 to 15 other participants wait to see if their children affected,”

My mind immediately goes back to the drug thalidomide in the 1960’s given to women to help relieve morning sickness in pregnancy.  Thalidomide was found to be safe when tested on animals, but in humans the side effect of phocomelia, a shortening or absence of limbs was the result.  Now, even though Sildenafil, also known as Viagra (commonly prescribed for erectile dysfunction), was found to be safe in rats, we have human babies dying.  The experiment on humans in the Netherlands was terminated when an independent committee overseeing the research, realized that “more babies than expected were being born with lung problems.”

The intent of these “experiments” on pregnant women are carried out with good intention, to help relieve the suffering of morning sickness in the case of thalidomide, and in the case of Viagra, to help increase blood supply to the placenta of babies already very compromised.  But what is not realized is that we still do not know or understand much of the workings of the human body to be meddling with it especially in the presence of a developing fetus.  When we try out a new drug on small fetuses and babies growing in the womb, believing that what is safe for animals is safe for humans, it is bound to be met with serious consequences.  I am saddened that we have not yet learned our lessons.

We can be forever grateful to FDA inspector Frances Kelsey who in July of 1962, resisted pressure from the pharmaceutical company and FDA supervisors to market the Thalidomide in the USA, as she was concerned about the lack of research on whether or not the drug could cross the placenta and affect nourishment to the developing fetus.  Thankfully, again, the USA may be saved as the study was conducted in the Netherlands unless there was some unofficial and illegal use here in the USA.

In this day and age, it is healthy for consumers and especially pregnant women to be skeptical about accepting a drug that is not always new on the market but newly used for other purposes, in this case Viagra on pregnant woman. How a drug responds in an animal and human adult can be completely different from how it affects the intricate workings of a developing baby.  To this day, we don’t understand how the fetus knows to make folds in its proteins to store more knowledge and develop organs.  We cannot see most of the vessels in the human body with the naked eye.  We don’t completely understand how the brain works and develops.  Extreme caution needs to be used along with educating the public, especially women of childbearing age, not to accept something they don’t know or understand.  People and especially pregnant women need to question medical treatment and prescriptions.

There are other ways to improve fetal development:

  • Take consumer oriented childbirth preparation classes that are designed to educate women about these issues.
  • Educate pregnant women about more healthy nutrition. The food a pregnant woman eats grows her baby.
  • Find ways to lower stress in their lives through meditation and yoga that also encourage slow deep breathing.
  • Encouraging them to keep physically active.
  • Educating pregnant women about the dangers of smoking, drinking, and high caffeine intake.
  • Impress on pregnant women the need to read labels. If they don’t understand what the ingredients are, they need to find out so they can make informed decisions.