Sunday, March 08, 2009

Are tocolytics safe & effective?

A new study questions the safety of drugs used for pre-term labor, saying some are linked to complications and not always effective:

In an accompanying editorial, the researchers said their study is a reminder that the decision to use tocolysis shouldn't be taken lightly.

"After 30 years of research, we still do not know whether tocolysis benefits the fetus, so the choice of which drug to use remains a secondary question. The real dilemma is whether or not we should treat at all," they wrote. The long-held belief that "keeping the baby inside longer must be a good thing" needs to be reevaluated, they said.

1 comment:

Nicholas Fogelson, MD said...

The controversy on tocolytics is a lot more complicated than this, but you are right that there are unanswered questions. Tocolysis for 48 hours to gain the benefit of antenatal steroids is clearly beneficial. Tocolysis after that is less clear. That being said, tocolysis does seem to stop contractions, and in many cases appears to arrest the preterm labor of women who certainly appear like they are about to deliver a preterm infant.