Viagra on trial for unborn babies at risk





The drug commonly known as Viagra has excited scientists and medical staff in New Zealand trying to find a treatment for growth restricted unborn babies who face a shaky future outside the womb.

About 10% of all babies are born smaller than they should be and in most cases it’s because of the placenta not functioning properly so oxygen and nutrients can’t get through to help the foetus grow.

There’s no treatment for this condition other than monitoring and possibly delivering the baby prematurely. In severe cases it result in stillbirth or pre-term birth with the baby facing serious disabilities such as brain damage, blindness and cerebral palsy. Even in less severe cases there are often long-term health issues such as diabetes and heart disease later in life.

But now Sildenafil citrate, the generic version of Viagra, is giving cause for hope. Over the past 15 years research has been ongoing into this male impotency drug. Prof Phil Baker, director of the government-funded research centre Gravida, says the drug first attracted their interest because it was known to increase blood supply by relaxing the blood vessels and because it targets the pelvic area. This made them wonder if it could help pregnant women with growth-restricted babies.

Early trials, using mice, other animals and a small sample of women in Canada have given hope that the treatment could work. Now, with $1.1 million in funding for the NZ Health Research Council, an extensive study involving 122 women in New Zealand and Australia is set to get underway.

The women chosen to take part in the STRIDER trial will be those whose unborn babies face the worst outcomes as a result of growth restriction. Recruitment starts towards the end of the year and results are not expected until 2016.

Interestingly, the drug is already used in a small way for women with pre-eclampsia and the dosage – which is much lower than that given for male impotency– will be similar.

The panel of clinicians who made the STRIDER trial announcement today, were at pains to urge women not to self-medicate with Viagra. The women taking part in the trials will be carefully monitored throughout their pregnancies to check for side effects or other unknown outcomes.

The trial is a world first with other trials planned in the UK/Ireland, Netherlands, Canada and the US.

 For more information go to gravida.org.nz.




Pregnancy
GALLERIES


Copyright © 2017 www.ohbaby.co.nz. All Rights reserved.