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Common drug for stopping preterm labor may be harmful for babies
Date:11/1/2007

A drug commonly used to halt premature labor may be associated with brain damage and intestinal issues in premature babies, according to a new analysis of studies on the issue published today in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

When a woman goes into labor early, obstetricians are faced with the possibility of delivering a baby who is not ready to breathe air on its own. Often the mother will be given both a tocolytic agent, or drug used to stop labor, and a steroid to help the babys lungs mature faster. After the baby has had a couple days to allow the steroid to work, the tocolytic agent will be stopped and the mother may give birth shortly after.

As pediatricians and neonatalogists, its important for us to know whether the benefit of these drugs outweighs the potential for complications for these medically fragile children, said Sanjiv Amin, M.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and author of an article on the subject. In the case of the tocolytic agent indomethacin, we know it impacts blood flow but there have been no large randomized studies to evaluate the effects on the baby.

Dozens of studies have been done, but none have had a large sample size or a definitive outcome on the effects of indomethacin. The new analysis of a collection of studies, or a metaanalysis, by University of Rochester Medical Center researchers pulls together enough data to conclude that there is an association between use of indomethacin and babies experiencing periventricular leukomalacia (white matter injury by decreasing blood flow in the brain, which may lead to cerebral palsy).

The analysis also showed an association between indomethacin and necrotizing entercolitis (a condition in which intestinal tissue dies, which can sometimes be successfully treated with antibiotics but can require surgery and even cause death), especially for those babies who were exposed to the drug with
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Contact: Heather Hare
heather_hare@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-2840
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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