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Will these drugs have an adverse effects on the fetus?

Q: My sister is 25 weeks pregnant and 2 weeks ago she was admitted in a hospital as the baby had slipped because of a weak uterus. The doctor prescribed Susten tablets & Duvadilan tablets. Susten to be taken either orally or inserted into the vagina. She has also been given an injection, Betnesol, which is a Betamethasone sodium phosphate injection. Will this in any way have a lasting effect on either the baby or the mother?

A:Duvadilan is the brand name of a medicine called isoxsuprine. It is given to prevent premature labour and appears to be appropriate in the case of your sister. I do not know why Betnesol (betamethasone) has been prescribed. You should ask the doctor the reasons for administering steroids. Steroids are given during pregnancy only when the benefits clearly exceed the risks. Betamethasone crosses the placental barrier and reaches the baby and hence one needs to be very cautious. Also it has many side effects on the mother such as fluid retention. Susten is the brand name of a hormone called progesterone. Progesterone has been used to prevent abortion but there is no hard evidence of its benefit. Its most common side effects are: dizziness (16%), breast pain (11%), headache (10%), abdominal pain (10%), fatigue (9%), viral infection (7%) muscle pain (6%), emotional liability (6%), irritability (5%) and respiratory infections (5%). Lesser effects include palpitations, oedema, chest pain, herpes infection, leukorrohoea, high blood pressure etc. One of the side effects of progestogens during pregnancy is musculinisation of female baby (hair growth on face etc.) In the United States, the use of progesterone during known or even suspected pregnancy is prohibited. If a progestogen is indicated during pregnancy, hydroxyprogesterone is preferable in injectable form (such as Maintaine injection) in the dose of 250 mg once a week.

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