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Common Preterm Labor Drug Has More Side Effects Than Alternative,,Finds Study from Packard Children's Hospital and Stanford

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"The take-home message is that we saw no differences in relevant outcomes between the two groups," said Lyell, "but there was a significant difference in the side effects experienced by the women, and some of these were very serious."

Lyell and El-Sayed emphasized that magnesium sulfate is still an appropriate treatment for preterm labor. It continues to be used regularly both at Packard Children's and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. But they believe it may be time for physicians to give more weight to expected side effects when considering what to try first.

"It's been my experience that women who have had magnesium sulfate remember it; they don't like it," said Lyell. "Those who receive nifedipine don't feel as bad. These drugs are prescribed under what are already very difficult circumstances for the patients, and side effects are very important to them."

Lyell and El-Sayed's Stanford collaborators on the study were Kristin Pullen, MD, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology; Usha Chitkara, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology; and Maurice Druzin, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology. The study also included contributions from researchers at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and UC-San Francisco.

Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions -- Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center's Office of Communication & Public Affairs at http://mednews.stanford.edu.

Ranked as one of the best pediatric hospitals in the nation by U.S.News & World Report and Child magazine, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford is a 264-bed hospital devoted to the care of children and expectant mothers. Providing pediatric and obstetric medical an
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