Evidence-based view of safety and effectiveness of pharmacologic therapy for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP)

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2002 May;186(5 Suppl Understanding):S256-61. doi: 10.1067/mob.2002.122596.


Objective: Our goal was to review the safety and effectiveness of available antiemetics for treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.

Study design: We performed a quantitative and qualitative overview of observational controlled studies for drug safety in pregnancy and randomized controlled trials for drug effectiveness for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Results: All of the following are safe and effective for treatment of varying degrees of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: Bendectin/Diclectin (doxylamine, pyridoxine, dicyclomine), antihistamine (H(1)) blockers, and phenothiazines; however, the magnitude of effect, particularly for phenothiazines, is in question and may differ among individual agents. Pyridoxine and vitamin B(12)are safe and may be effective. Metoclopramide, droperidol, and ondansetron may be effective, but safety data are insufficient to recommend them as first-line agents. Corticosteroids may not be as beneficial as first thought, and there may be a small teratogenic risk. The relative effectiveness of various agents is largely unknown.

Conclusion: Many medications, particularly H(1)-antagonists and phenothiazines, are safe and effective for treatment of varying degrees of NVP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced*
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects
  • Animals
  • Antiemetics / adverse effects*
  • Cholinergic Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Dopamine Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Nausea / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Serotonin Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Vomiting / drug therapy*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Antiemetics
  • Cholinergic Antagonists
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists
  • Serotonin Antagonists