Up to 15 unborn babies at risk after halted medical test

Belly of a woman in her 34th week of pregnancy
Belly of a woman in her 34th week of pregnancyPhoto: Inferis / Wikimedia Commons

About 10 to 15 pregnant women who participated in a medical study on the effect of sildenafil, better known as Viagra, on the growth of too small fetuses do not know whether their unborn child will survive the now halted test, ANP reports.

The test ran in 10 Dutch hospital and involved 183 women. It was recently halted because there is a chance that the drug increased the chance that the babies may die. 93 women were given Viagra. 17 of their children were born with a lung condition, and 11 of the babies died of this condition. The other 90 women were given a placebo. Only three of their children had the same lung condition, and none of them died of it.

Lead investigator Wessel Ganzevoort could not tell Nieuwsuur exactly how many currently still pregnant women were prescribed the drug. He did say that the babies of a number of study participants are still in intensive care. According to Ganzevoor, the drug seems to increase the risk of the child contracting the lung disease, as well as the risk of death after birth. 

The study focused on pregnant women whose babies had a severe growth limitation early in the pregnancy, with poor prospects for the child. There is currently no known therapy to help these babies grow.