Preventing Premature Birth Drug Sounds Risky

Heather Chaet
30

premature babyBig news from the FDA today -- Makena, also known as 17P, had been approved to treat women who are pregnant with one baby and who have had a history of spontaneous preterm births. According to trial results, of women using the drug, 37 percent delivered early (before 37 weeks), while 55 percent of women in the control group -- and not taking the drug -- delivered early.

Those numbers sound great, but what the real scoop on this drug?

First the facts: this isn't for women carrying twins or multiples. You have to be in good health -- no history of breast cancer or uncontrolled hypertension or other serious medical issues. Pregnant women have to go to their doctor and get an weekly injection of their drug in the hip (ouch) starting at week 16.

There are side effects. Nausea, rashes, hives, and itching at the injection site were the most common. But, those taking the drug in the trials also had an increased rate of miscarriages, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and other complications than women in the control group who didn't take 17P. That's some serious effects.

All of us probably know someone who has had a premature baby and have heard her worries about possibly going into labor early again the second or third time around. But, brand new drugs like this, with the risks involved, they scare me (though I'm scared of most things, including spiders).

Whether or not you should take Makena is one tough, really tough decision for pregnant women with this history of preterm births to make. I remember when I was pregnant. I examined anything I put into my body, any food, any medicine. Heck, I even second-guessed lotions and perfumes I used. Honestly, if I had to make this decision, I don't know what I would do. Is it worth the risk?

Have you had a premature birth? Would you try this new drug?

 

Image via Cesar Rincon/Flickr

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