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Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2001 Aug;97(2):122-40.

Calcium channel blockers in the management of preterm labor and hypertension in pregnancy.

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  • 1Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Free University Hospital Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) have the ability to inhibit contractility in smooth muscle cells. CCBs have an already established role in the treatment of non-pregnant hypertension and angina pectoris. Some epidemiological studies found an association between the use of CCBs and an increase in cardiovascular mortality, malignancy, and gastrointestinal bleeding. More recent studies with many more patients and a longer follow-up did not find these associations. In obstetrics CCBs have become increasingly popular for the management of preterm labor and pregnancy-induced hypertensive disorders. Meta-analysis shows that use of nifedipine in comparison with betamimetics is associated with a more frequent successful prolongation of pregnancy in case of preterm labor, resulting in significantly fewer admissions of newborns to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and is associated with a lower incidence of respiratory distress syndrome. No adverse fetal side effects in humans have been reported with the use of nifedipine for obstetric indications. Nifedipine is an effective and safe drug to use when tocolytic therapy is indicated for preterm labor. In preeclampsia nifedipine effectively lowers blood pressure and can be a good alternative for (di) hydralazine.

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