Jill Durocher

Misoprostol and Teratogenicity: Reviewing the Evidence

January 1st, 2003
Meeting Report
Philip, N.M., Shannon, C., Winikoff, B. (Eds.), Population Council, Gynuity Health Projects

The abortifacient properties of misoprostol are well known to medical professionals and often to the general public. In fact, women have chosen to self-administer misoprostol to terminate their pregnancies, particularly in settings where abortion services are not available. The medical community and women's health advocates have expressed concern that in those instances where the woman has a failed abortion and then continues the pregnancy to term, the exposure to misoprostol could potentially result in birth defects in the child. Indeed, several reports of birth anomalies have surfaced in the scientific literature, and subsequent studies have explored this question. Yet the true teratogenic potential of misoprostol has been obscured, perhaps overestimated, by the reasonable concern for the well being of the child. Given this controversy in the field, a select number of experts from the fields of embryology, obstetrics and gynecology, epidemiology, teratology, physiology, and drug development gathered in May 2002 to discuss the possible teratogenic effects of misoprostol. The meeting report, Misoprostol and Teratogenicity: Reviewing the Evidence, compiles the relevant research on the putative teratogenicity of misoprostol as well as the expert conclusion determined during the meeting.