Understanding the “Ozempic Baby” Phenomenon

In the realm of weight loss medications, few have captured attention quite like Ozempic. Promising not just significant weight loss but also sustainable results, Ozempic and other GLP-1 drugs have garnered a reputation for effectiveness. However, beyond their intended purpose, a curious trend has emerged — the rise of what some term “Ozempic babies.”

This phenomenon, where women report getting pregnant while on Ozempic, has sparked intrigue and concern alike. The internet is rife with women sharing their stories, and every platform — from Reddit to TikTok to mainstream news channels and heavyweights like The Washington Post — is buzzing.

So, while the drug hasn’t been approved for fertility enhancement, the correlation between weight loss and fertility, coupled with Ozempic’s impact on birth control, sheds light on this unexpected occurrence. Let’s take a look at the two main reasons this is happening and why fertility experts advise against getting pregnant while taking Ozempic.

Weight loss can lead to increased fertility

Last week, The Bump published an article by Associate Editor Wyndi Kappes that pointed out two possible reasons that taking Ozempic can lead to an unexpected pregnancy. Kappes interviewed Karen Wheeler, M.D., FACOG, a reproductive endocrinologist at Reproductive Medicine Associates, who highlighted the link between weight loss and enhanced fertility. Dr. Wheeler said:

We know that weight loss can increase the rate of ovulation in women with irregular periods… Women who lose weight with Ozempic who were not previously ovulating may start to ovulate and if not using effective contraception, may get pregnant while on Ozempic.

Also, lower BMI resulting from weight loss can improve pregnancy rates, especially in assisted reproductive technology, according to Dr. Wheeler.

Ozempic’s impact on birth control

The second reason that women may be getting pregnant on Ozempic has to do with the drug’s effect on birth control. Dr. Wheeler pointed out that while no direct studies correlate Ozempic with decreased birth control effectiveness, the drug’s influence on gastric processes could affect pill absorption. This is especially true if Ozempic is causing such side effects as nausea and vomiting.

Lauren Bishop, M.D., ob-gyn, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Fertility Center, also pointed out that weight loss medications, in general, may decrease the efficacy of oral contraceptive pills. She said:

These medications can slow how the stomach is processing its contents, thus altering how birth control pills are absorbed and processed.

Why getting pregnant on Ozempic isn’t recommended

Despite the potential fertility benefits, caution is warranted. Drs. Wheeler and Bishop emphasize the lack of studies on Ozempic’s safety during pregnancy. Animal studies hint at adverse fetal outcomes, indicating a potential risk for human pregnancies. Dr. Wheeler explained:

Pregnant rats who were given Ozempic had increased rates of fetal death, structural abnormalities and growth alterations… It can take up to 6 weeks for Ozempic or similar medications to be gone from the body, so someone who is planning to conceive should stop Ozempic at least 2 months prior to conception.

In light of these findings, women on Ozempic are advised to take extra precautions regarding birth control. Barrier methods or long-acting reversible contraception are recommended until more is understood about the drug’s interaction with contraceptives and its effects on pregnancy.

Dr. Wheeler also underscored the importance of seeking professional guidance when navigating fertility and weight loss. “If you are overweight or obese and trying to conceive, please speak with your ob-gyn or fertility specialist about the pros and cons of different weight loss therapies,” she said.

The bottom line

While Ozempic (and similar GLP-1 drugs) may offer weight loss benefits, its role in conception remains uncertain and potentially risky. Until more studies emerge, taking Ozempic and pregnancy shouldn’t coincide. Women are encouraged to explore alternative weight-loss therapies and consult with healthcare providers to make informed decisions.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Ozempic Babies: Experts Weigh in on the Drug’s Effect on Fertility,” The Bump, 4/10/24
Image by Hollie Santos on Unsplash

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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