‘Ozempic babies’: Popular diabetes drugs linked to surprise pregnancies

‘Ozempic babies’: Popular diabetes drugs linked to surprise pregnancies

‘Ozempic babies’: Popular diabetes drugs linked to surprise pregnancies

Injectable drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, originally meant for diabetes treatment, have swept the world as weight management medication. These are especially prevalent in popular conversation because of their purported use by Hollywood actors and other celebrities.

However, some women who were on Ozempic recently took to social media to announce their pregnancy, even though they were taking birth control pills. What’s more, certain others who had been diagnosed as ‘infertile’ conceived after a course of these drugs.

Scientists reveal that in some cases, increased fertility in women who have been injected with Ozempic or Wegovy is plausible, but in the current circumstances, they are awaiting more information. 

The potential impact of GLP-1 agonists on fertility

These drugs belong to a group known as GLP-1 agonists. Endocrinologist Beverly Tchang says, “We are in a data-free zone when it comes to GLP-1s and fertility and pregnancy.”

A spokesperson from Novo Nordisk—the makers of Wegovy—noted that the company recommends women stop using these drugs two months before they begin to try conceiving so that the fetus isn’t exposed to the effects of the drug. However, many women reported instances of pregnancy while they were on oral birth control pills.

Nicole Templeman, a cell biologist at the University of Victoria in Canada, told Nature that the female reproductive system is quite sensitive and thus responsive to metabolic health, energy balance, and nutrition. She also believes that these effects could extend beyond weight loss. 

But what could be the reason for oral contraceptives to fail? Researchers discovered that Tirzepatide (an antidiabetic for treating type 2 diabetes and weight loss) can alter the way oral contraceptives are absorbed. They can also make it less effective.

Could they impact other bodily functions?

GLP-1s could also affect other physiological systems. Researchers in Italy published a study in which they found that dosing female rats with GLP-1 helped in producing luteinizing hormone (LH), the hormone that causes ovulation in mammals, including humans. 

“We are quite sure that GLP-1 receptor analogues are promoting fertility because they are able to increase the pre-ovulatory LH peak,” Federico Mallo, one of the study authors, said. 

On the other hand, a Chinese team published a study in May of this year where they identified a species of gut bacteria regulating natural GLP-1 production in mice. 

Called Bacteroides vulgatus, these bacteria can suppress the production of GLP-1 hormone, which can disrupt ovarian function in mice. It was observed that when the researchers began treating the mice with a GLP-1 drug, they started ovulating once again. 

An endocrinologist and fertility specialist at the University of Toronto, Alyse Goldberg, believes that the impact of GLP-1 drugs is a “topical conversation”. Several data suggest that most young people are consuming these drugs, from the age group of 18-25. Around 75% of these were women. 

“If people are losing weight and regaining ovulation, there is a risk of pregnancy if they’re not properly counselled,” Goldberg said. As for more data on the effect of GLP-1 drugs on fertility, Goldberg says, “We’re all waiting with bated breath.”

Source: Interesting Engineering

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‘Ozempic babies’: Popular diabetes drugs linked to surprise pregnancies

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