Recently, there has been a huge controversy in the U.S. over the off-label
use of the ulcer drug misoprostol (also called Cytotec). Obstetricians routinely
use the drug as an inexpensive way to induce labor or abortion.
The benefit of misoprostol is that it frequently induces labor in post-term
pregnancies within 24 hours. The controversy involves the potential danger it
poses to the health of the mother and child.
Obstetricians say there is little risk involved when the drug is used
correctly, while opponents point to possible drug-related infant deaths and
uterine ruptures. Many also question whether inducing labor, in many cases, is
more a scheduling convenience for doctors than a necessity.
It will be some time before conclusions are drawn. Meanwhile, researchers at
the Winthrop University Hospital have found that an old reliable remedy for
constipation can effectively and safely induce labor.
For more details on the Winthrop study,
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