Life Blood: Drug stops mothers' bleeding after births

9:28am, October 11, 2006

A drug sometimes used to induce abortions can stem bleeding after childbirth, according to a 3-year study in India. It might save the lives of millions of women in developing countries, the researchers say.

Worldwide, the leading cause of a mother's death during childbirth is postpartum hemorrhage. When the uterus fails to contract after a baby is delivered, the site where the placenta detached can bleed excessively.

In countries where babies are routinely delivered in hospitals, women who have just given birth typically receive an injection of one of several synthetic forms of the hormone oxytocin, which make the uterus contract. However, these drugs aren't often available to women in developing countries, explains epidemiologist Stacie Geller of the University of Illinois in Chicago.

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