Childbirth: Delaying Labor

Health Watch is a Public Service of the University News Bureau and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


Childbirth is one of life’s miracles, but sometimes nature needs a helping hand. This week on Health Watch, we’ll talk about some medical issues relating to childbirth. The closer a fetus comes to term, the better its chances. Medicine can help prevent premature labor, but that can be costly.

The hormone progesterone is used to prevent preterm birth. Weekly injections of this hormone became dramatically more expensive earlier this year when the Food and Drug Administration granted one company the sole production rights, where before compounding pharmacies could produce these injections inexpensively. Dr. Gary Cunningham, an obstetrician at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says studies have shown that the daily use of vaginal progesterone suppositories is just as effective for preventing pre-term labor as the expensive injected drug. Injections can cost up to $30,000 during the course of a pregnancy, while the suppositories cost about $10 to $20 per week.

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September 2011

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