Hormone-like gel causes speedier deliveries, study suggests

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Use of a special medical gel, placed into the cervix of a pregnant woman, can enhance the natural birth process by shortening both the time until labor begins and the time to delivery, new research suggests.

Thirty women received the gel -- called prostaglandin E2 -- and waited an average of two-and-a-half days before delivering, while 31 women received a placebo and waited an average of seven days. On average, the women in the PGE2 group spent three hours less in labor.

The findings suggest that PGE2 may be helpful for women who are having problem pregnancies and who are candidates to have labor induced.

"The real application of PGE2 is in potentially preventing the need for induced labor in problem pregnancies. It might also reduce the need for some Caesarean sections," said Philip Samuels, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Ohio State University.

The research appears in a recent issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The researchers assessed the time that 61 women spent in labor and delivery -- 30 received PGE2 and 31 received a placebo gel, all as outpatients. The PGE2 or placebo was inserted into each woman's cervix via a catheter attached to a syringe.

Of the women given PGE2 injections, 15 (50 percent) gave birth within two days, as did five (16 percent) in the placebo

Contact: Philip Samuels
Ohio State University

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