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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1998 Sep;105(9):971-5.

A randomised placebo controlled trial of oral misoprostol in the third stage of labour.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Coronation Hospital and University of the Witwatersrand, Parktown, Johannesburg, South Africa.



To compare oral misoprostol 400 microg with placebo in the routine management of the third stage of labour.


A double-blind placebo controlled trial. Setting The labour ward of an academic hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa with 7000 deliveries per annum.


Low-risk women expected to deliver vaginally.


Women in labour were randomly allocated to receive either misoprostol 400 microg orally or placebo after the birth. Conventional oxytocics were given immediately if blood loss was thought to be more than usual. Postpartum blood loss in the first hour was measured by collection in a special flat plastic bedpan. Side effects were recorded.


Measured blood loss > or = 1000 ml within the first hour after birth. Use of additional oxytocics.


The groups were well matched. Measured blood loss > or = 1000 ml occurred in 15/250 (6%) after misoprostol and 23/250 (9%) after placebo (relative risk 0.65; 95% confidence interval 0.35-1.22). The difference may have been reduced by the greater use of conventional oxytocics in the placebo group, which was statistically significant for intravenous oxytocin infusion (2.8% vs 8.4%, relative risk 0.33, 95% confidence interval 0.14-0.77). Shivering was more common in the misoprostol group (19% vs 5%, relative risk 3.69; 95% confidence interval 2.05-6.64).


Shivering has been shown in this study to be a specific side effect of misoprostol administered orally in the puerperium. No serious side effects were noted. Misoprostol shows promise as a method of preventing postpartum haemorrhage. Because of the potential benefits for childbearing women, particularly those in developing countries, further research to determine its effects with greater certainty should be expedited.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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