Men's drug helps women in labour

4 July 2018

UPDATE: Recruitment for this trial has been paused as a precautionary measure, due to concerns about an unrelated trial using Sildenafil in the Netherlands.

A drug usually used for erectile dysfunction is helping to improve outcomes during labour in an Australian-first trial in Brisbane.

Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland (MRI-UQ) Professor Sailesh Kumar said Sildenafil – commonly known as Viagra - could reduce distress by increasing blood flow to the uterus and placenta during labour.

“Increasing blood flow improves the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the baby, which may reduce the risk of the baby becoming distressed in labour,” Dr Kumar said.

“Preventing fetal distress can greatly improve the short and long-term health outcomes of the baby.

“Emergency caesarean births can be traumatic and are sometimes associated with poorer results for both the mother and baby, so these preliminary results are very promising.

“When Sildenafil was taken in the early stages of labour, there was almost a 50 per cent reduction in women requiring an emergency caesarean or a forceps delivery because of fetal distress.”

Dr Kumar said the trial at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals had the potential to change standard clinical practice.  

So far, 230 women have taken part in the randomised trial and a further 200 will be recruited over the next 12 months. 

It is one of several programs supported by $500,000 from Golden Casket.  

Dr Kumar said the philanthropic support was key to the success of  the trial.

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