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New Inhalational Form of Oxytocin could Reduce Maternal Deaths around the World

New Inhalational Form of Oxytocin could Reduce Maternal Deaths around the World

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  • Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is the common cause of maternal deaths.
  • Oxytocin is used for PPH treatment, however, injection requires refrigeration and skilled medical professional for administration.
  • Inhalational form of oxytocin has been developed to make it easily accessible for women immediately after childbirth.

A newly developed inhalational form of oxytocin was found to significantly reduce the number of maternal deaths around the world, finds a research study from the Monash University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS).

The positive study results found that the inhalational form of oxytocin could be accessible to mothers much sooner than possible.


Around 300,000 women in low and low-middle income countries die during pregnancy and childbirth every year.

Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) causes severe loss of blood after childbirth and is mainly responsible for maternal deaths.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the administration of oxytocin to prevent Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). When an injection is administered, oxytocin requires refrigeration and a skilled medical professional for administering safely.

However, in low and low-middle countries, either one, or both the requirements may not be available.

Therefore, the research team in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline in London, was developing an inhalable, dry-powder form of oxytocin.

The study results of the first-in-human trial of the new oxytocin formulation was announced at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa.

The research study demonstrated that small-cohort study of non-pregnant female volunteers on whom the effect of the inhalational form of oxytocin was studied. This was done to compare the effects along with its injection counterpart.

The study found that the inhaled form of oxytocin had similar effects in the prevention of postpartum hemorrhage in women, when given immediately after childbirth.

Due to the positive results, the medicine may have an advantage of the streamlined pathway to registration.

Associate Professor Mcintosh, Project Leader at MIPS, said, "These results show that oxytocin can be delivered similarly via inhalation or injection and therefore we are less likely to be required to conduct the extensive and costly trials needed for an entirely new drug. Instead, we should be able to move forward with trials on a much smaller scale, featuring patients numbering in the hundreds rather than tens of thousands, potentially making the medicine available much sooner."

Further, clinical studies have to be carried out to evaluate the effects of inhaled oxytocin in women immediately after birth, to prevent postpartum hemorrhage.

Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH)
A condition which results in excessive bleeding immediately after a childbirth is called postpartum hemorrhage.

Postpartum hemorrhage often happens within one day of giving birth and may even happen up to 12 weeks after having a baby.

It is capable of causing a severe drop in blood pressure, and if not treated quickly it may result in shock and death.

Symptoms and Signs of PPH
  • Heavy bleeding from the vagina
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Pale Skin
  • Swelling or pain around the vagina
Oxytocin is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland and is produced by the hypothalamus. It is responsible for signaling the contractions of the womb during labor.

Oxytocin is given to women immediately after childbirth to prevent excessive bleeding. The drug may close the blood vessels in the placenta and helps to separate from the wall of the uterus.

  1. Postpartum hemorrhage - ( http://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/postpartum-hemorrhage.aspx)
  2. What Does Oxytocin Do? - (http://www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/what-do-hormones-do/oxytocin)

Source: Medindia

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