Trying to make newborns healthy by drugging them before they’re born is pure insanity—but that’s exactly what’s happening in a string of studies. The diabetes drug, metformin, is being trialed on overweight pregnant women. Concerns of birth defects are ignored in this insane rush to profit off existing drugs.
by Heidi Stevenson
Finding new uses for old drugs is big money. To that end, metformin, a generic diabetes drug, is being given to fetuses to see if it can prevent them from becoming obese. Trials are popping up in several countries, and at least one has already begun in the UK.
Just five years ago, metformin was considered a potential teratogen, that is, a cause of birth defects. Now, though, it’s suddenly being seen as perfectly safe. So safe, in fact, that researchers are jumping at the chance to give it to fetuses to see if it might prevent obesity when they’re born. However, the claim that metformin is safe does not appear to be universally accepted.
An editorial in The Medical Journal of Australia worries about the potential of adverse effects from metformin. The authors refer to adverse effects listed in the manufacturer’s insert. Wrong Diagnosis lists it as a teratogen, a substance that induces birth defects. Drugs.com discusses metformin’s association with ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition.
Metformin is known to cross the placenta, making it enter a fetus’s bloodstream directly. That means they’ll get the full dose. Whatever dose the mother takes, the fetus gets without modulation—along with all the adverse effects.
In spite of the known risks, and in spite of having absolutely no idea what effects metformin might have on a developing fetus or its effects after birth, Big Pharma is putting money behind giving it to fetuses.
The first trial is being run in the UK at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Obese women are divided into placebo and non-placebo groups.[4,5]
Another US trial by The University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston is in the process of recruiting patients.
There appears to be nothing more than wishful thinking behind the trial. The researchers hope that babies will be born smaller, though they apparently have nothing on which to base that hope other than…well, wishful thinking.
There is no sense of whether babies would remain smaller, if indeed they actually are born smaller by being given a drug. In fact, there’s no consideration whether the drug might disastrously affect the fetus’s metabolism and lead to a lifetime of disability.
The most frightening aspect of these trials is that they might be successful. If that’s the case, then we’ll be facing massive drugging of overweight pregnant women, most assuredly with pressure and the application of guilt, very likely with women being forced to take these drugs and prosecuted for child abuse if they don’t. But that may not be the worst of it. What will become of these drugged babies as they grow? The fact is that no one knows. Yet, this experiment on the lives of children yet to be born is going ahead full steam.
Dr. Andrew Weeks, the lead researcher of the UK trial, offers the excuse that it’s better to give the mothers and their fetuses this drug, because:
The difficulty comes when you have been living in a particular way for years that is not healthy. To suddenly change to a different lifestyle is not easy to do. Lifestyle change takes time, and we would always encourage this as well, but the use of Metformin gives us another option when the other is not realistic.
Interesting, isn’t it, that Weeks’ focus is on blaming obese women for their situation? He holds the typical assumption that these women are lazy or without will power. There is no consideration for the fact that much of what obesity is a result of the foods that people are encouraged to eat—especially low-fat and artificially-sweetened, both of which result in weight gains—and an environment that discourages exercise. The failure is not in the obese person. The failure is in a medical system that doesn’t address the real causes of obesity, and even actively encourages the very things that cause it.
Dr. Weeks advocates drugging fetuses, rather than changing the factors that result in obesity. Like so many modern medical practitioners, the focus is no longer on health. It’s on treating symptoms. Fat pregnant women tend to produce fat babies? Just give ‘em drugs!
Health is not the absence of drugs. Health is not found in drugs. Trying to make newborns healthy by drugging them before they’re born is pure insanity.
Tagged big pharma, big pharma metformin, conventional medicine, drugging fetuses, drugs for health, drugs for health insanity, metformin, metformin fat babies, metformin fetuses, metformin obese babies, metformin obesity, modern medicine, pharmaceutical drugs, pharmaceuticals, science, using drugs to create health