Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Going to be Induced? Educate Yourself.

While in the hospital in Louisville, my perinatoligist was discussing how, if under his care, he would like to induce me at 39 weeks. He was raving about this drug that he uses that causes more "natural" contractions. The conversation went something like this ...

Me: "So, what's this drug's name?"
Dr.: "Cytotec. And it really mimics the natural pattern of labor. It's great."
Me: "Wow! If I did have to be induced, that sounds wonderful! Why isn't it used more? Why do we mainly hear about Pitocin?"
Dr. : "I'm not sure."

I now know why. 

Cyctotec (a drug designed for treating ulcers) is NOT approved for use in pregnant women, in fact the company explicitly WARNS against use in that group of people. Doesn't the graphic on the label on the drug itself say enough?

However, doctors (just like the one I encountered) are not telling women this fact and using it as an induction aide in an estimated 200,000 births yearly. They're not warning women of the outstanding risks of
  • uterine rupture (even in women without previous cesarean sections)
  • postpartum hemorrhage
  • fetal distress
  • amniotic embolism
  • fetal death
  • maternal death
Her story may be rare, but Tatia Oden-French's is one that is heart wrenching. In 2001 Tatia was expecting her first child and was in perfect health, excited about a natural childbirth. However, her care provider decided since she was 2 weeks overdue that she should be induced. The drug of choice: Cytotec (also known as Misoprostol). Ten hours after been administered Cyctotec, Tatia experienced hyper-stimulation of the uterus, an amniotic fluid embolism, and ended up having an emergency C-Section. Both Tatia and her baby died in the operating room. Her mother, Maddie Oden, adamantly claims that Tatia was never informed of the risks of this harmful drug, Cytotec.

Maddie Oden, now spends much of her time lobbying for the ban of usage of Cytotec in pregnant women. 

Another reason the drug is so harmful to pregnant women is that has not gone through the clinical studies and trials necessary to be approved for use on pregnant women. (Which is one of the reasons hospitals prefer to use it -- it's cheap since it hasn't been studied in an expensive clinical trial on pregnant ladies) Therefore, there is no "standard", "correct dosage" . It comes in a pill form, which doctors have to cut up even though the pill is not meant to be divided in that manner (the active ingredients may not be equally distributed).

Being in a pill form also causes another danger. With Pitocin (in a drip form) if adverse reactions are detected the medication drip can be stopped and the medication cleared from the body rapidly. But, with Cytotec, there's no "taking back" a pill once it's been administered. One just has to hope that it goes okay!

Even Cytotec's manufacturer, Seale, took the time to write out a plea to warn the medical community in 2000:
"Serious adverse events have been reported following off-label use of Cytotec in pregnant women including maternal or fetal death, uterine rupture …amniotic fluid embolism"

Yet medical professionals still continue to administer the drug.

If your doctor mentions induction to you, please ask questions and make informed decisions. It enrages me that the doctor that I mentioned at the beginning of the post seemed to be holding back information from me. Maybe he doesn't know the risks. How much scarier is that thought?

Thankfully I now know and will be refusing Cytotec if ever offered to me. Make your own choices. (Read how making your own medical choices is closely related to making your own spiritual choices over at The Christian Practice.)

Links to Info on Cytotec:
WSMV's News Story on Cytotec
The Tatia Oden French Foundation


  1. oOOH! So glad for the head's up! Thanks!

  2. I just noticed the little pregnant woman symbol with the big circle/line strikethrough over the top of it. Wow - that's on the bottle. I guess you have to ignore that to give it to a pregnant woman, don't you...