Viagra Can Cause Serious Intrauterine Complications - Scientists' Findings

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Viagra Can Cause Serious Intrauterine Complications - Scientists' Findings
Viagra Can Cause Serious Intrauterine Complications - Scientists' Findings

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Viagra can cause serious intrauterine complications - scientists' findings

Specialists at the University of Amsterdam Medical Center (Amsterdam UMC) have summed up the results of large-scale clinical trials of the drug sildenafil, which were stopped in 2018 after the death of 11 newborns.

Viagra can cause serious intrauterine complications - scientists' findings
Viagra can cause serious intrauterine complications - scientists' findings

Human Embryo Collage / Photo: CC0 Public Domain

Scientists published the results of the failed study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Sildenafil, better known by the brand name Viagra, is used to treat erectile dysfunction in men by increasing blood flow. Doctors suggested that due to its vasodilating properties, the drug will be useful for the slow growth of the placenta - a condition that can cause premature birth and underweight in an infant.

To test this hypothesis, scientists initiated randomized clinical trials of the drug at ten research centers and one hospital in the Netherlands. Women with pregnancy from 20 to 28 weeks were invited to participate in the experiment, who were diagnosed with delayed fetal development in combination with dysfunction of the uterine, umbilical or cerebral arteries, as well as hypertension. Women with multiple pregnancies, congenital abnormalities or infections, who used cocaine, under the age of 18, who had a heart attack or stroke, were not allowed to study.

Of the 216 participants, half took 25 milligrams of sildenafil three times a day, the other half received a placebo. Both groups were required to receive medication or placebo before 32 weeks of pregnancy. During this time, scientists also assessed the state of intrauterine development and the health of the mother.

Studies have shown that the use of sildenafil not only does not have a positive effect on intrauterine development, but is even fatal to the fetus. Perinatal mortality or significant neonatal morbidity was observed in 60.2% of children whose mothers took sildenafil compared with 54.2% with children of women in the placebo group. In addition, newborns exposed to intrauterine exposure to sildenafil were three times more likely to develop pulmonary hypertension.

The high mortality rate and cases of pulmonary hypertension in newborns became the reason for the early termination of studies, so the drug was not tested on the planned sample - it was assumed that at least 360 women would take part in the studies.

"This study highlights the need for further research into the functioning of the placenta," said Nadav Schwartz, head of maternal fetal outpatient medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. - Since sildenafil improves blood flow, it was hoped that the drug could help improve the development of the baby in utero. But the fact that researchers have not received any evidence of its benefits and even saw the obvious harm suggests that we need to get much more information. There are many more mysteries about how the placenta works.”

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