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Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2008 May;9(7):1153-68. doi: 10.1517/14656566.9.7.1153.

Developments in the pharmacotherapeutic management of spontaneous preterm labor.

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  • 1Imperial College London, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Northwick Park and St Mark's NHS Trust, Watford Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3UJ, UK.



Preterm birth is the major cause of perinatal mortality and morbidity in the developed world.


The aim of this study was to establish the importance of preterm birth and the huge healthcare costs involved and review the pathophysiology of preterm labor and the use of antepartum glucocorticoids, which are the main reason why tocolytics are used to prevent or delay preterm birth. The study also reviewed the range of tocolytics available, their mode of action and the evidence for their efficacy and fetomaternal safety.


An extensive review of the literature using well-recognized and accepted scientific search engines was employed.


The perfect tocolytic does not exist. The evidence to support the use of magnesium sulfate as a tocolytic is poor. The use of beta-agonists is decreasing worldwide as clinicians move to nifedipine or atosiban, which are as effective but much safer. Although nifedipine is cheaper than atosiban and can be administered orally, the evidence to support atosiban is much superior to that of nifedipine and there have been recent safety concerns over nifedipine.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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