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Use of uterotonics like oxytocin to induce or augment labor has been shown to reduce placental perfusion and oxygen supply to the fetus, and studies indicate that it may increase the risk of stillbirth and neonatal asphyxia. Antenatal use of uterotonics, even without the required fetal monitoring and prompt access to cesarean section, is widespread, yet no study has adequately estimated the risk of intrapartum stillbirth and early neonatal deaths ascribed to such use. We conducted a case-control study to estimate this risk. We conducted a population-based case-control study nested in a cluster-randomized trial. From 2008 to 2010, we followed pregnant women in rural Haryana, India, monthly until delivery. We visited all live-born infants on day 29 to ascertain whether they were alive. We conducted verbal autopsies for stillbirths and neonatal deaths. Cases (n = 2,076) were the intrapartum stillbirths and day-1 deaths (early deaths), and controls (n = 532) were live-born babies who died between day 8 and 28 (late deaths). Antenatal administration of uterotonics preceded 74% of early and 62% of late deaths, translating to an adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval [CI]) for early deaths of 1.7 (95% CI = 1.4, 2.1), and a population attributable risk of 31% (95% CI = 22%, 38%). Antenatal administration of uterotonics was associated with a substantially increased risk of intrapartum stillbirth and day-1 death. See video abstract:


Sanjana Brahmawar Mohan, Halvor Sommerfelt, J Frederik Frøen, Sunita Taneja, Tivendra Kumar, Kiran Bhatia, Lize van der Merwe, Rajiv Bahl, Jose C Martines, Sarmila Mazumder, Nita Bhandari. Antenatal Uterotonics as a Risk Factor for Intrapartum Stillbirth and First-day Death in Haryana, India: A Nested Case-control Study. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.). 2020 Sep;31(5):668-676

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PMID: 32618713

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