Jill Durocher

Misoprostol in the management of the third stage of labour in the home delivery in Gambia

September 1st, 2005
Postpartum Hemorrhage
Walraven, G., Blum, J., Dampha, Y., Sowe, M., Morison, L., Winikoff, B., Sloan, N.

BJOG; 2005 Sep; 112(9):1277-83; doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.2005.00711.x

Objective: To assess the effectiveness of 600 microg oral misoprostol on postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) and postpartum anaemia in a low income country home birth situation.

Design: Double blind randomised controlled trial.

Setting: Twenty-six villages in rural Gambia with 52 traditional birth attendants (TBAs).

Sample: One thousand, two hundred and twenty-nine women delivering at home under the guidance of a trained TBA.

Methods: Active management of the third stage of labour using three 200-microg misoprostol tablets and placebo or four 0.5-mg ergometrine tablets (standard treatment) and placebo. Tablets were taken orally immediately after delivery.

Main outcome measures: Measured blood loss, postpartum haemoglobin (Hb), difference between Hb at the last antenatal care visit and three to five days postpartum.

Results: The misoprostol group experienced lower incidence of measured blood loss > or =500 mL and postpartum Hb <8 g/dL, but the differences were not statistically significant. The reduction in postpartum (compared with pre-delivery) Hb > or = 2 g/dL was 16.4% with misoprostol and 21.2% with ergometrine [relative risk 0.77; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.60-0.98; P= 0.02]. Shivering was significantly more common with misoprostol, while vomiting was more common with ergometrine. Only transient side effects were observed.

Conclusions: Six hundred micrograms of oral misoprostol is a promising drug to prevent life-threatening PPH in this setting.