The Risks of Inducing Labor With Cytotec

The Risks of Inducing Labor With Cytotec

by / Friday, 12 November 2021 / Published in Birth Trauma, Medical Malpractice
A mother holds her newborn baby in a hospital bed.

It’s very common for babies to not be born on their expected due date. But if pregnancy continues on for too long, or if the mother has a health condition that makes it important for the baby to be born as soon as possible, a doctor may recommend inducing labor to speed up the process. It’s estimated that 20%-40% of all labors are induced. 

If a doctor decides that it’s best for an expectant mother to be induced, there are a few ways they can do so. In some cases, they might try options like amniotomy or “sweeping the membranes” to induce labor through physical means. But in other situations, they may try to move things along by prescribing a medication to help prepare the cervix for delivery, one of which may be Cytotec. 

What is Cytotec?

Cytotec is a synthetic version of prostaglandin, a hormone, and is the generic version of a medication called Misoprostol. Initially, it was developed and approved to treat a health problem completely unrelated to pregnancy and delivery — stomach ulcers. However, when doctors realized that Cytotec also had the effect of softening the cervix, they began using it to help induce labor. Even though Cytotec is now widely used for labor induction, the FDA has not approved it for that purpose. 

Understanding Off-Label Medications

The practice of using medications for off-label use, meaning a medication is used for a different purpose than it was originally approved for, is extremely common. It’s estimated that about 20% of all prescriptions in the United States are for off-label use. 

It’s important to understand that use of off-label medication is legal and isn’t necessarily inherently dangerous. For example, a doctor might prescribe an off-label medication if the FDA-approved drug would interfere with another medication a patient is taking and there is evidence that the off-label medication would be beneficial to the patient. However, it’s a practice that can potentially come with some risks. 

Risks of Cytotec

In the case of using Cytotec to induce labor, there have been some possible complications linked to the use of the drug. One side effect is hyperstimulation, which is when unusually strong contractions occur in a short span of time. If hyperstimulation occurs, it can constrict the baby’s oxygen supply since the pressure can constrict blood and oxygen for the baby without leaving enough time for those levels to return to normal between contractions. Hyperstimulation can also lead to a uterine rupture.

Placental abruption is another possible complication, which occurs when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus. If this happens, it can also impair the baby’s oxygen supply by compressing the umbilical cord. Any complication that results in restricted oxygen can potentially result in a wide range of birth injuries, such as HIE and cerebral palsy.

The FDA acknowledges that there are risks involved with using Cytotec to induce labor and the manufacturer of Misoprostol has also issued warnings about using the drug for labor induction. 

When medication is used for an off-label purpose, it’s crucial for the doctor to carefully weigh the risks and benefits involved. If Cytotec is not administered appropriately, the more likely it is for complications to occur. For example, dosage size is very important when it comes to using Cytotec to induce labor. It’s recommended that doctors start with a low dose and gradually increase the dosage if necessary, discontinuing the drug if labor hasn’t progressed after administering 100mg. 

Contact a Michigan Birth Trauma Lawyer

If a doctor doesn’t follow recommended guidance and you or your baby is harmed as a result, or if they neglected to inform you of the risks involved with Cytotec, don’t hesitate to contact a birth trauma lawyer. Very often, birth trauma is the result of medical malpractice and malpractice cases can be very complex. You need someone on your side who understands the law and knows how to help you and your family.

At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a Michigan-based lawyer who is experienced in both birth trauma and medical malpractice cases. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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