Cytotec Injury During Pregnancy
Many pregnant women whose babies are post-term or whose labor is not progressing as it should receive labor-inducing drugs. Cytotec, which is a popular brand of the generic drug misoprostol, is a synthetic medication that stimulates the body to begin uterine contractions. This drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat and prevent stomach ulcers resulting from arthritis medications. However, many obstetricians began administering Cytotec off-label to induce labor by accelerating the ripening of the cervix during the 1990s. Since that time, the use of this drug to induce labor has dramatically increased because of the view that it is a safer alternative to Pitocin to induce labor and soften the cervix. Many infant injury law firms, including Raynes & Lawn, have seen cases involving birth injuries caused by the misuse of both Cytotec and Pitocin.
What is Cytotec?
Cytotec is a synthetic prostaglandin and is the brand name for misoprostol. It was developed to prevent stomach ulcers in patients taking arthritis medications. While many obstetricians use this drug to induce labor, it has not been approved by the FDA for this purpose. In fact, the FDA has issued an alert to doctors about the off-label use of this drug during labor and delivery. Similarly, the manufacturer of Cytotec has also issued warnings against the off-label use of Cytotec, but many obstetricians still use it to induce labor anyway. Doctors administer this drug to pregnant women to thin the cervix and cause uterine contractions. While the drug can have these effects, it also carries a risk of permanent injuries to mothers and babies. Cytotec is the second-most common drug used to induce labor behind Pitocin.
After many doctors began administering Cytotec to induce labor during the 1990s, the drug’s manufacturer, G.D. Searle, issued a warning in 2000 to healthcare providers to not use the drug off-label to induce labor. The company noted that its medication includes a black box warning about using the drug during pregnancy because of its risks of causing adverse events to mothers and fetuses. The company published its warning in the New England Journal of Medicine and also followed up with letters sent to healthcare providers about the risks of using the drug, including a risk of miscarriage and a risk of uterine hyperstimulation.
Uterine hyperstimulation is dangerous and occurs when the mother’s body overreacts to Cytotec or other labor-inducing medications and causes the uterus to contract too intensely and frequently. This can place the fetus under a high level of distress without providing the ability to recover between contractions. It can also increase the chance that the mother’s uterus could be damaged and rupture.
Following G.D. Searle’s warning, some doctors stopped using Cytotec to induce labor. However, many doctors resumed its use following a few studies that reaffirmed its use to induce labor. The reason why Cytotec has become popular is that it both stimulates contractions and facilitates the softening of the cervix. By contrast, Pitocin doesn’t soften the cervix and only causes uterine contractions. Cytotec is also available in multiple forms, is less expensive, and is easier to administer than Pitocin.
Risks Associated With Cytotec to Induce Labor
Using Cytotec to induce labor carries multiple risks. This drug is administered by a vaginal suppository instead of intravenously as compared to Pitocin. Doctors might cut a Cytotec pill into smaller pieces to administer a smaller dose. However, even small doses of Cytotec can be dangerous because it is immediately absorbed by the body. It is not possible to predict how the baby and mother will react to this drug, so beginning its administration can be dangerous. Some of the risks of Cytotec to induce labor include the following:
- Uterine hyperstimulation
- Uterine rupture
- Interruption of the blood flow to the fetus through the placenta
- Amniotic fluid embolism
- Retained placenta
- Severe pelvic pain
- Fetal bradycardia (slow heartbeat)
- Placental abruption in women with preeclampsia
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Birth asphyxia or hypoxia
- Fetal or maternal death
The use of Cytotec can also increase the risk that an emergency Caesarean section will be necessary or the use of assistive delivery devices because of the complications associated with this drug. Cytotec is very risky for women over the age of 35 who have previously given birth several times or who have had previous C-sections or other uterine surgeries.
Use of Cytotec Resulting in Birth Injuries
When a doctor administers Cytotec to induce labor, babies might suffer birth injuries caused by uterine hyperstimulation, placental abruption, uterine rupture, and other complications. Some of the common birth injuries caused by Cytotec used to induce labor include the following:
- Intellectual disabilities
- Cerebral palsy
- Developmental disabilities
- Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)
Find Birth Injury Lawyers Near Me
If your baby suffered birth injuries because of your doctor’s misuse of Cytotec to induce labor, you should talk to a Philadelphia birth injury lawyer at Raynes & Lawn. Cytotec should not be used by medical professionals to induce labor because of the dangers it poses to mothers and babies. Call us today to request a free consultation so that you can learn more about your legal options at 1-800-535-1797.
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