Babies die after mums given Viagra in Dutch trial

A Viagra in pregnancy trial has been urgently stopped after 11 newborn babies died./AGENCIES

A Viagra in pregnancy trial has been urgently stopped after 11 newborn babies died./AGENCIES

The Guardian reports some in the test group have anxious days ahead: As many as 15 women have yet to know what their child's outcome will be.

"The chance of lung disease appears to be greater, and also the chance of death following the birth seems to be increased", said a letter sent to the parents involved, according to Hart van Nederland, a Dutch TV programme.

The trial, which began in 2015, involved 11 hospitals and 183 women. "In addition, the Principle Investigators at the Amsterdam University Medical Centre have confirmed a non-Pfizer manufactured generic version of sildenafil was used but that no clinical trial participants were administered Viagra, Pfizer sildenafil or any other Pfizer medicine".

A team led by Kenneth Lim at the University of British Columbia is part of an global research effort looking at the effectiveness of sildenafil, the generic name of Viagra, in treating women with a condition called early-onset intrauterine growth restriction.

A woman who took part in a Dutch drug trial in which 11 babies died has spoken of going through a "whirlwind" of emotions before she signed up. Among a control group of roughly an equal size, there were only three babies with lung issues and no deaths.

Professor Zarko Alfirevic from the University of Liverpool, who led part of the United Kingdom research into sildenafil in pregnancy, said that the findings in the Dutch study were "unexpected".

The drug causes increased blood pressure in the lungs.

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Professor Kumar, based at the University of Queensland, said the Queensland study was looking into Viagra's use "in a very different context".

More than a dozen things can cause intrauterine growth restriction, including maternal diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure, chromosomal abnormalities in the baby or several types of infection. In any case, they have temporarily stopped their research'.

At that time, in 2010, researchers said the treatment should be used only in trials.

At the moment when the trial was stopped last week, a total of 93 women had been given Viagra to take during their pregnancy, while 90 others were given a placebo.

A spokesman for Amsterdam UMC said it believed the trial had been conducted properly, but would expect an external investigation to be launched. Viagra is known to dilate some blood vessels, including those in the penis-which is how it became a blockbuster drug for erectile dysfunction-and a number of animal studies and small human trials suggested the drug might benefit unborn children.

Why would they give pregnant women Viagra?

Previous studies in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand also examined whether sildenafil could assist these babies.

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