Qld researchers pause study using Viagra to reduce foetal distress

"The chance of a disease of the blood vessels of the lungs appears to be greater and the chance of death after birth seems to have increased".

The research, carried out at 10 hospitals, involved giving the women - chosen because their placentas had been under performing - the drug sildenafil, commonly sold under the brand name Viagra.

Researchers recommend at this stage that no one takes the drug to aid the development of unborn babies.

During the study, another 90 women took a placebo pill with no active ingredients. It said researchers expected all such usage of the drug to be stopped and that further research should examine the effects and safety of the substance when used in pregnancy.

The women who participated in the study, which started in 2015, have been notified about the incident, the Amsterdam UMC stated. And babies born too small can experience a host of problems, including smaller head sizes, lack of blood flow to the intestines and death.

Among the treatment group, 17 babies developed lung conditions that reportedly caused high blood pressure in the lungs and may have been the result of reduced oxygen levels.

The study had already been conducted in New Zealand and Australia, according to Amsterdam Universitair Medische Centra (University Medical Center), which headed the latest trial.

"We are using Sildenafil in women with full-term pregnancies who are appropriately grown. The researchers expect that the use of sildenafil for this application will stop worldwide".

Since at present, there is no treatment to correct the problem, the women were selected for the drug trial, which showed favourable results in animal studies. Seventeen babies developed lung problems, and 11 died. "They temporarily stopped", - said the leader of the study, gynecologist Wessel Ganzevoort.

Prior to the experiments, the growth of each of the unborn babies was found to be limited and the prognosis viewed as poor.

In a statement, Amsterdam UMC said that it believed the trial had been conducted properly, but will launch an external investigation to find the cause of deaths. The doctors decided that the child would be better to stay and develop inside the mother.

"We are not aware of an increase in adverse outcomes among the 21 Canadian trial participants".

Viagra is typically prescribed to men with erectile dysfunction, and experts hypothesized that the drug's ability to dilate blood vessels would improve the performance of the placentas in pregnant women.

There are still 15 women in the trial who have yet to give birth.

Dr. Katie Groom, associate professor of maternal and perinatal health at the University of Auckland and the chief investigator of the Australia and New Zealand trial, said these lung problems and deaths were not seen there, nor in the United Kingdom, although they are reviewing all of the cases in the trial to be sure.

  • Santos West