Kim Kardashian is now hawking controversial pregnancy drug

Kim Kardashian’s favorite morning sickness medication, Diclegis, is reported to be safe for pregnant women to take.

And the reality star apparently trusts the reports — she shared an Instagram photo that could be construed as an endorsement.

Since being posted, the photo has been getting a lot of criticism, and moms who are thinking of using Kardashian’s morning sickness cure may want to be read up before asking their doctor for a pill. Ethical questions about a pharmaceutical company pairing up with a celebrity aside, there is a little back story to this pregnancy drug that not everyone knows about.

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What is Diclegis? It was approved — not for the first time — by the FDA in 2013, and it is a combination of vitamin B6 and an antihistamine called doxylamine. Doxylamine can be found in other medications such as NyQuil, and together with B6, it’s currently the only Category A drug meant for morning sickness. This means that adequate and well-controlled human studies have shown no increased risk of adverse effects in the first or subsequent trimesters.

However, Diclegis doesn’t have a controversy-free past. It was formerly sold in the United States under the name Bendectin, and was voluntarily withdrawn from market shelves by its manufacturer in the early ’80s due to multiple lawsuits alleging that it had caused birth defects. This was just a couple decades after thalidomide, a drug given to pregnant women and also marketed to help with the effects of morning sickness, was found to have caused severe birth defects in around 10,000 children worldwide.

There was never any proof, though, that Bendectin actually caused any birth defects, and subsequent studies have shown that the formulation is not harmful to a mother or her baby.

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It should also be noted that Diclegis has not been studied for its effects against hyperemesis gravidarum, which is a severe form of morning sickness that can be severe enough that it requires hospitalization (Kate Middleton is a famous, recent example of a mother-to-be suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum).

Morning sickness is very real and can be disabling. It can strike at any time during a pregnancy, although it’s most common during the first three months. And despite its moniker, it can also strike any time of the day or night.

Usually, a healthcare provider will suggest self-care at home with various strategies, such as eating smaller, more frequent meals, eating a couple saltine crackers before rising out of bed, or taking a prenatal vitamin at night before bed instead of in the morning. Medication to deal with morning sickness will likely be a last resort of your care provider; because even though studies show that some treatments are A-OK during pregnancy, you really can’t be given a 100 percent guarantee of its safety.

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We all know that morning sickness is completely inconvenient, uncomfortable and even terrible for some. But we don’t really need to be getting medical advice from sketchy celebs either, so be sure to discuss with your doctor all options before settling on a medication.