The first comprehensive study of its kind at Emek Medical Center in Afula will
help obstetricians/ gynecologists to find the proper drug to prevent premature
The study, carried out with the Rappaport Medical Faculty at the
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, involved 145 Israeli women and
was recently published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and
“Premature delivery is the leading cause of illness and death
in infants,” said associate clinical Professor Raed Salim. Seven percent of
births are premature, with the most serious problems occurring at less than 28
weeks of gestation, when the survival level reaches 80 percent, he
The aim of specialists in the field is to extend as much as
possible the age at which babies are born to prevent prematurity and hold back
delivery of women in premature labor for 48 hours, said Salim. This time period
can allow for the transfer of the woman to a medical center with a neonatal
intensive care unit or for medication to be administered which would ripen the
fetus’s lungs, Salim continued.
“Until now, it was not clear to doctors
what drug should best be chosen for these purposes,” he said.
In the Emek
research, pregnant women who were admitted for hospitalization in high-risk
pregnancy units for premature births were randomly divided into two groups. If
labor was not halted an hour after admission, one group received a drug named
atosiban, while the other received nifedipine. Seventy-five women received
nifedipine, while the rest got atosiban.
When the results were analyzed,
atosiban was found to be more effective in preventing the premature delivery
over a short period, while those who received the nifedipine held on to the
fetus for at least a week – proving the second drug to be significantly more
Prof. Eliezer Shalev, dean of the medical faculty and head of
the ob/gyn branch at Emek, said that on the basis of the study, solid facts are
available to know what drug to use.
Women whose delivery has to be
postponed for 48 hours can take atosiban, while those whose birth had to be
postponed for a week or more should be given nifedipine.