Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Misoprostol and pregnancy don't mix

Cytotec (misoprostol) is a drug commonly used to induce labor. But what mothers aren't told is that Cytotec (misoprostol) is a drug used to prevent stomach ulcers, and the manufactures warn against using during pregnancy and labor. Some of the known side effects include birth defects, premature labor, uterine rupture, maternal and perinatal mortality, and in the infant, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy occurs when oxygen is cut off to the brain. This can cause long term damage like cerebral palsy, delayed developement, seizures and of course, death.

That's not the whole story behind Cytotec (misoprostol). When RU-486 (aka the abortion drug) was approved by the FDA, they also approved Cytotec (Misoprostol) as a companion drug to complete the termination of the pregnancy.

The Tatia Oden French Memorial Foundation was started by the family of a young mother. She was in perfect health during her pregnancy, and induced just under 42 weeks. She was given Cytotec without being told the risks, she suffered hyperstimulation of the uterus and an emergency c-section was performed. Both Tatia and her newborn daughter died.

While there are risks associated with any drug you take, it's important to point out that the FDA has not approved the use of Cytotec (misoprostol) during labor. And that the manufacture has publicly asked that doctors stop using it to induce labor.

If Cytotec isn't approved for labor and pregnancy, why is it commonly used? Unfortunately the answer is "because it's cheap". Hospitals are businesses. And like all businesses they try to keep their overhead expenses low. Does that make it okay to use Cytotec for a purpose not only it isn't made for, but that the manufacture has not approved? Absolutely not. I'm honestly not sure with is more appalling, the fact that this drug is so commonly used in the U.S despite known complications and warnings, or that health professionals don't feel the need to inform their clients about the possible dangerous side effects.

Cytotec induction and off-label use by Marsden Wagner, MD, MS


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