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Are Labor Inducing Drugs Deadly?

I saw this news report this past weekend out of the UK that made me catch my breath - a woman was given a dose of Misoprostol (brand name Cytotec) 16 times the level recommended by national guidelines and died as a result. The thing is – the dose she was given was the protocol dose at her hospital. It wasn’t even an accident. Tragic.

But in researching this story it brought up a whole host of other questions for me. Cytotec/Misoprostol is commonly used for abortions and to induce labor in the USA, yet it’s not even FDA approved for these uses. I was given Cytotec/Misprostol by my OB last year when my labor had to be induced after my baby died in the womb at almost 19 weeks. I took it in my time of grief not researching side effects or even thinking that it might be risky. I have no idea at this point how much I was given.  I had extensive bleeding for hours after the birth. I was not told of any risks or given any information to inform me of the risks.  And the risks are huge – even at a “normal” dose (whatever that is). Uterine rupture, to name one.

This poor family first lost a baby at 39 weeks, then had to endure losing their mother and wife due to this drug. The FDA’s word on the matter is that it’s not approved for these uses and has the risks at even a lower dose.  How many of you have been given Cytotec to “soften the cervix” when they were inducing your labor at the end of pregnancy? You may have been overdue, you may not have been. Induction seems to be happening less and less for medical reasons lately.

What are the larger implications of this? How often do we as mothers first research drugs we’re given by our OB before we take them? How do you feel about being given drugs for uses not approved by the FDA?

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