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Terbutaline is sometimes used as
a tocolytic medicine to slow uterine contractions
Terbutaline should not be used for longer than 72 hours for the treatment of preterm labor.
Terbutaline can relax
smooth muscles, like the uterus. It also affects the smooth muscles
of the blood vessels and the small airways of the lungs.
Terbutaline can be used
during preterm labor when:
Depending on the medical facility, terbutaline
may be the first medicine used to delay premature birth.
Terbutaline can be effective when labor needs to be delayed for 24 to 48 hours.
But the medicine usually does not completely stop contractions. Nor has it been shown
to lower risks for the premature baby.1, 2
Side effects are common with terbutaline use and may affect both the mother and fetus.
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
treatment is effective, its effect typically lasts no more than 48 hours.
Long-term treatment is not advised (based on the risk of serious side effects) and is not effective.1
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Cunningham FG, et al., eds. (2010). Preterm birth. In
Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 804–831. New York:
Haas DM (2011). Preterm birth, search date June 2010.
BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online:
Other Works Consulted
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2011). FDA Drug Safety Communication: New warnings against use of terbutaline to treat preterm labor. Available online: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm243539.htm.
January 8, 2013
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
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