Is terbutaline worth using to stop preterm labor?

Alexander Kofinas M.D.

Terbutaline is one of the worst medications ever used in patients with preterm labor. All the studies over the last 20 years have failed to prove any significant effects in stopping labor or prolonging pregnancy. In contrast, many studies have clearly demonstrated that terbutaline is dangerous for the mother and the unborn and continuous use of it in oral and subcutaneous use (via a pump) increases the frequency of contractions. Many mothers exposed to terbutaline for preterm labor inhibition, have experienced severe and in many instances lethal cardiovascular complications. Other studies have shown that its use increases the risk for neonatal brain damage, hemorrhage and developmental delays. This is a really dangerous drug that should never by used to stop preterm labor. Unfortunately, it has been and still is the standard of care despite two very strong warnings from the FDA. Only recently, when the FDA issued its last warning using very strong language, many perinatologists decided to stop using it.