Thursday, May 9th, 2013
The drug Pitocin, which is used to induce labor or keep labor going when it has slowed or stopped, has been found in a new study to have adverse effects on newborn babies. The study, which was presented this week at the Annual Clinical Meeting of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, was the first to report a negative effect of the widely-used drug.
The study was based on data collected from 3,000 women who gave birth between 2009 and 2011. The results showed that women who were given oxytocin (Pitocin is the most common brand name of this type of drug) were more likely to deliver babies who were unexpectedly admitted to the NICU after birth, and that those babies were more likely to remain in the NICU for more than 24 hours. Babies born from Pitocin-augmented labors were also more likely to score less than 7 on the Apgar test, the standard test that evaluates a newborn’s physical condition at one and five minutes after birth based on appearance (skin coloration), pulse (heart rate), grimace response (medically known as “reflex irritability”), activity and muscle tone, and respiration (breathing rate and effort). An Apgar score of 8 or higher is generally regarded as the standard for a baby in good health.
Researchers insist that they are not advocating for Pitocin to be eliminated from the labor room, but instead that the drug should be used only when strongly indicated, not, for example, for an elective labor induction.
“We don’t want to discourage the use of Pitocin, but simply want a more systematic and conscientious approach to the indications for its use,” Dr. Michael S. Tsimis, the study’s primary investigator, said in a statement.
Image: Woman with IV in hospital, via Shutterstock
Friday, December 21st, 2012
New research is finding that oxytocin, the hormone that brings about feelings of love, connection, and belonging in relationships, may help fathers bond better with their children. More from Time.com:
“In a study published in Biological Psychiatry, 35 fathers played with their five month old daughters, once after being given a nasal spray containing either oxytocin and again after being given a placebo. Each time, they were instructed to engage in a task called the “still face” paradigm, which produces a small, heart-tugging drama. Researchers measured oxytocin levels in both the dads and their babies before and after the exercise.
First, the father smiles and plays with the baby, who sits in an infant seat facing him. Then he keeps his face blank and expressionless, refusing to respond as the infant makes increasingly worried attempts to re-engage him. After a few minutes of watching but ignoring the child’s distress, the dad resumes a more loving expression and reassures baby that all is well.
After receiving oxytocin, the fathers were generally more responsive to their little girls— almost certainly having a harder time keeping their faces blank during the “still face” and consequently responding far more quickly when instructed to re-engage. Under the influence of the hormone, the dads made more eye contact, provided more touch, had more mirroring and reciprocal interactions and indulged in more baby talk than after receiving placebo.
Their babies also tended to respond more to their dads who had received the oxytocin sprays—with increased smiles, laughter, mirroring and play behavior—compared to their behavior when their dads were receiving the placebo. Their own oxytocin rose in near perfect sync with the elevation of the hormone occurring in their fathers.”