Ergotamine treatment during pregnancy and a higher rate of low birthweight and preterm birth

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2007 Oct;64(4):510-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2007.02901.x. Epub 2007 May 15.


Aims: Previously the association between oral ergotamine treatment during pregnancy and gestational age at delivery, birthweight, the rate of preterm birth and low birthweight has not been studied.

Methods: Newborn infants without congenital abnormalities born to mothers with or without ergotamine treatment during pregnancy were evaluated in the population-based data set of the Hungarian Case-Control Surveillance of Congenital Abnormalities between 1980 and 1996.

Results: Of 38,151 newborn infants with medically recorded gestational age and birth weight, 77 were born to mothers who had received ergotamine treatment during pregnancy. A statistically significant decrease was found in the mean gestational age (0.7 weeks) and birth weight (196 g) among exposed relative to unexposed infants, though these differences were not obstetrically significant. However, there was a significant increase in the proportion of low birthweight newborns (16.4% vs. 5.7%) and preterm births (16.4% vs. 9.2%) after the use of ergotamine during pregnancy. The effect of ergotamine was more obvious in male newborn infants, particularly after treatment in the third trimester.

Conclusions: The association between low birthweight and/or preterm birth and ergotamine treatment may be connected with the effect of ergotamine on the placenta of pregnant women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ergotamine / adverse effects
  • Ergotamine / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age*
  • Male
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / chemically induced*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / adverse effects*


  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Ergotamine