Long Term Effects of Preterm Labor Drug Terbutaline on Baby? - Indianapolis,IN

Updated on September 25, 2010
M.D. asks from Indianapolis, IN
11 answers

My wife was given shots (and pills) of Terbutaline for some preterm contractions at 31 weeks (no dialation). I've researched this drug and found many discussion linking its use for preterm labor to autism in the baby. After a week of taking the pills (and a negative FFN), we told the doctor no more Terbutaline. We have two other boys (10 and 6) who are healthy, but neither of those pregnancies required preterm treatment. I'm curious if people with experience using this drug for preterm labor/contractions can comment on the long-term outcomes of their children. I'm also curious if you have boys or girls, as I know autism seems to be more prevalent among boys (we're having another boy). Finally, how old were you and how long did you take Terbutaline (we are both 40 but very healthy athletic people)? How long did you take Terbutaline and did you have IV at the hospital, the pills at home, and/or the pump?

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answers from Cincinnati on

I had the IV in the hospital, pills at home, and then on pump for last three weeks of pregnancy. The boys (twins, now 12) were born at 37 weeks at 6#12oz and 7# and have been perfectly healthy their whole lives. One is very ornery about school (he's been tested for ADD, but only diagnosed with writing issues), but his brother is a straight A student. Net, I could wonder about drug effects on the one if not for NO effect on the other. It's a tough call - have also heard about maternal side effects, but I had none. Good luck.

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answers from Columbus on

I took terbutaline with my son at 30 weeks. I also got a couple shots while pregnant with him, but can't remember how far along I was. He is now 11 and the healthiest person in the whole family! I was 27. I also took it with my latest pregnancy, but for less than a week. I was 37 when I gave birth, my baby was a girl and perfectly healthy. With my first, I contracted A LOT and didn't know if it was, in fact, pre-term labor. With my last, I knew I tended to contract a lot, but I was also at an advanced maternal age, so I was nervous about preterm labor, again. Both pregnancies were full term and aside from my first labor being horribly long, there were no real complications. If I'd have known about the possible link, I probably wouldn't have agreed to take it. However, in both instances, everything turned out fine.
Congratulations and good luck to your family!



answers from Columbus on

I don't know the long term effects yet, as my baby is only 15 weeks, but here is my experience. I went into the hospital with bleeding at 19 weeks. They couldn't find the problem and sent me home after 5 days. At 29 weeks, I went into labor. They put me on magnesium in the hospital and introduced us to the neonatal docs and nurses thinking we would likely deliver. They managed to stop the contractions. I had dilated to 5. After 6 days, they sent me home on strict bed rest with a terbutaline pump that was constantly in my leg. I managed to make it to 35 weeks with a healthy, happy baby boy. He is our 5th child. I was so concerned about losing the baby, that I would have done anything the doctor told me to do.
I did need a shot with pregnancy #2 and #3 (just one shot, both boys) and took the pills with pregnancy #4 (girl). Babies #2 and #3 are 6 and 5 years old and neither have any healthy issues. Baby #4 is 2 years old and has not had any issues surface.
I have several girlfriends who also used the terb pump. One has a 7 year old son and the other has a 5 year old son. Both boys are happy and healthy with no apparent health issues.
Good luck with your new baby! Such a tough question. Always go with your gut feelings though. Each experience will be different.



answers from Cleveland on

I was put on terbutaline at 30 weeks with my first son - he was born at almost 38 weeks, and is 8 now, and is perfectly healthly - no allergies, no special health conditions, etc. I definately recommend following the doctor's advice.

good luck! :)




answers from Terre Haute on

I had taken the pump at home for about 5 months, I was around 19years of age and I had a boy. My son has been tested for autism and was told that he was border line with asperger autism.



answers from San Francisco on


I had to take Terbutaline for about 3 weeks to keep from going into pre-term labor. My son is healthy, smart and overall a great child. This was almost 12 years ago, so researching on the internet was not as prevalent as today. Our thought at the time was to do what was needed to save the pregnancy as it was very unexpected, so we felt very blessed.

12 years later, I would do it all over again to be sure to make it to at least 37 weeks of pregnancy. Please be sure to listen to your wife's doctor, keep her hydrated and let her rest as much as possible. This is one of those times to hire a house cleaner and/or just let the small things go.



answers from Austin on


I was given Terbutaline as shots in the arm, every three hours for a 12 hour period at 29 weeks (I do know that the shots are much more potent than the pills). I also had a negative FFN. At 31 weeks I was back in the hospital where I received Mag Sulfate by IV for 48 hours. I then received Terb shots again, every three hours for a 24 hour period. My son was born at that time. I was 40 years old at the time and, like you, was extremely worried about all of the drugs. However, my son is now 20 months old, and seems perfectly fine (is developing normally). I am not a doctor but am of the opinion that if your baby really wants to come out, he will - no matter what drugs you throw at him (as my son taught me :) ) I wish you and your wife the best!


-wanted to add that I don't regret taking the drugs at all and would do it over again. When my baby came early, it was at least nice to know I had done everything I could to prevent it. A pre-term delivery is not fun!



answers from Phoenix on

I have 17-year-old boy/girl twins who have been a delight to raise along with their three older brothers. During my pregnancy with them I was confined to complete bed rest and on a daily regimen of terbutaline. It was at about four months that I was diagnosed with twins and due to the fact that it was my fourth pregnancy, I was told that I would have preterm labor. I started taking the drug orally and was also put on home monitoring. Twice a day, in the morning and evening, I was attached to a monitor and it was sent via telephone line to my nurse-midwives. I must have made six or seven trips to hospital during this time because of pre-term labor. Toward the end of the pregnancy, when I was completely unable to even stand up for a few minutes, I was admitted to hospital and put on a mag-sulfate IV drip for 48 hours. After that I was sent home with a terbutaline subcutaneous pump. I delivered my twins via c-section at 36 weeks. My daughter was actually 35-and-a-half weeks and because of this, she was whisked off to the neonatal ICU due to difficulty in breathing. I never even saw her until 12 hours later. I was able to bond with my son immediately, though. He looked exactly like his three older brothers. :-) For the next three or four days they were both required to have their blood sugar levels tested. I was told this was due to the fact that I had been on the terbutaline for so long. I was also told that there was nothing to be alarmed about. With the exception of having to watch them cry when their little tiny feet were poked every hour, I was enjoying my stay in hospital with them. (My three older sons were all born at home, delivered by a midwife, and I had never experienced a hospital birth.) Finally, all three of us went home and things were wonderful. They both grew normally. We were a very normal, but large, family.

During these years, my three older sons did exceptionally well in school. Two of them were even in the gifted programs and it never occurred to my husband and me that our twins would be any different once they started school. But things changed once they started kindergarten. They just couldn't seem to learn. I was back to work by this time, and felt that because I wasn't there 24 hours a day to help them like I had been with their brothers, I felt it was my fault and had somehow let down my children. In second grade, they couldn't read and were very behind. Their teacher told me they had the attention span of four-year-olds and this worried me. I had to take action. I withdrew them from public school and proceeded to home school them, along with the assistance of my now high-school-aged older sons. Within three months, they were reading and seemed to be doing better. So I re-enrolled them in public school. Their teacher even told me that they were now a year ahead of their peers in reading and comprehension. I felt very satisfied. But as the years went by, I could see that they were struggling. Unfortunately, the school psychologist told me that neither of them had a "learning disability," and so were not eligible for any assistance. My guilt returned.

In spite of all this, each year they were advanced to their next grade level. Once they started high school, everything just fell apart. Each year, they had not acquired the necessary credits and just got further and further behind. We had since moved to a different school district and I continued in my attempt to make the school psychologist admit there was a problem. Finally, last year, when they were both juniors, albeit not having the junior amount of credits, a new psychologist told me they did indeed have a learning disability. But by now it was basically too late. The damage had already been done. This year, my daughter is attending school. She is merely a senior in name but will be required to take a credit recovery course or remain for another two years. My son, on the other hand, has decided to study for his GED test. He is not going to school at this time.

My husband and I have wracked our brains trying to figure out why our "babies" were not as successful in school as their brothers were. The doctors and psychologists all told us they were fine. There was never any type of diagnosis of ADHD (which we do NOT believe even exists) or autism. Then we started talking about my pregnancy. And the first word I thought of was TERBUTALINE. So now I have started my mission to find out if this is the cause of their learning trouble. Everything I have read has indicated that it IS the cause.

Could my now nearly grown babies have a form of Autism? I won't even bother with the doctors. They don't seem to know anything, and I had a serious falling out with their pediatrician of long-standing. The twins will be 18 next March. They will be adults in a world of struggle and dog-eat-dog and have not properly developed their important developmental skills. I feel that I have failed miserably, and have severe anxiety because of my worry over them.

Please let me know if this helped anyone. If you are pregnant and having to take any pre-term labor medication such as Terbutaline, please take the necessary steps to provide for your child/children and their future schooling. I am convinced that this drug has had an adverse effect on my twins ability to learn. Physically, they did splendidly. But there must be a connection between this medication and learning abilities. Whether it is autism or something else that the medical experts have not yet discovered, PLEASE do not let your children slip through the system like I did.

I hope my story has helped.



answers from Redding on

I had to take this drug ALOT during my pregnancy with my son. The first time I went into labor was 4 months early, following an auto accident. And things got even rougher from there. To be honest, I lost track of how many times I was given that medication.
The good news is, my son was born full term, 7 lbs 4 oz, and perfectly healthy. I was 34.

My son is 14 now and has absolutely no affects from the medication or any of the other crises I suffered during my pregnancy. He's 5'9" and growing, very intelligent, no hyperactivity issues or learning disabilities of any kind.
No allergies. Athletic.
Perfectly healthy.

Best wishes.



answers from St. Louis on

I used Terbutaline starting at 26 weeks in the pill form. My daughter was born 37 weeks. She is 9 now and is perfectly healthy. She gets straight A's and is in a program for gifted children.


answers from Savannah on

I was given terbutaline at 34 weeks - my son is totally fine. i delivered a healthy baby boy at a much safer 38 weeks, and he is 17 months old now... walking, talking, eating etc... normal as can be. I was 22 and I took it for about 11 days.

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