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Erectile dysfunction drug being used in Brisbane maternity service

A drug commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction is being given to women during labour in a Brisbane trial.

More than 200 women have taken part in a randomised trial involving sildenafil – sold under the brand name Viagra.

When taken in the early stages of labour, the drug was linked to a 50 per cent reduction in the need for an emergency caesarean or a forceps delivery because of fetal distress.

Professor Sailesh Kumar, from the Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland (MRI-UQ),  said sildenafil could help by reducing distress through increased 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,” 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.”

The trial underway at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals has the potential to change standard clinical practice, Kumar added.

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