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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;201(6):553-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2009.07.010.

In utero beta 2 adrenergic agonist exposure and adverse neurophysiologic and behavioral outcomes.

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  • 1Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Beta 2 adrenergic receptor overstimulation during critical periods of prenatal development can induce a permanent shift in the balance of sympathetic-to-parasympathetic tone. This is a biologically plausible mechanism whereby beta 2 adrenergic agonists can induce functional and behavioral teratogenesis, which explains their association with increases in autism spectrum disorders, psychiatric disorders, poor cognitive, motor function and school performance, and changes in blood pressure in the offspring. The use of beta 2 adrenergic agonists should be limited to proven indications when alternate drugs are ineffective or unavailable; the risks of untreated disease to the mother and fetus are greater than the risk of the beta 2 adrenergic agonist.

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