Revista medica de Chile

[Developmental toxicity of misoprostol: an update].

PMID 21879192


Misoprostol, a synthetic analog of prostaglandin E1, is currently used in Chile and other countries as an antiulcer medication, mainly for the prevention of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory-induced gastric ulcers. Due to its uterotonic properties, it is also indicated in obstetrics for induction of labor and termination of pregnancy. In this last case, misoprostol is either used alone or in combination with other oxytocic drugs such as methotrexate or mifepristone. The use of misoprostol as an abortifacient agent is considered to be safe since it rarely causes serious side effects. However up to 15 % of misoprostol-induced-abortions may not be successful, even under medical supervision, leading to in utero exposure to the drug and to the induction of a series of birth defects including limb and joints defects and Moebius syndrome. Reports from the nineties failed to show a strong epidemiological association between in utero drug exposure and induction of defects, a situation that has changed now that the number of cases reported has increased. Since the practice of abortion is illegal in Chile, many women turn to off-medical procedures to interrupt their pregnancy and use misoprostol as an easy and cheap alternative, readily available in the INTERNET. The lack of medical supervision in these cases may lead to situations that favor the induction of congenital defects. Here, we present an updated review of scientific data, to evaluate the risk of birth defects in babies exposed to the drug during pregnancy termination failed attempts.