Objective: To investigate the side effects of 600 microg oral misoprostol given for the mother and the newborn to prevent postpartum hemorrhage (PPH).
Methods: One thousand six hundred twenty women delivering at home or subcentres in rural India were randomised to receive misoprostol or placebo in the third stage of labour. Women were evaluated for shivering, fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea at 2 and 24 h postpartum. Newborns were evaluated within 24 h for diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Symptoms were graded as absent, mild-to-moderate or severe.
Results: Women who received misoprostol had a significantly greater incidence of shivering (52%vs. 17%, p < 0.001) and fever (4.2%vs. 1.1%, p < 0.001) at 2 h postpartum compared with women who received placebo. At 24 h, women in the misoprostol group experienced significantly more shivering (4.6%vs. 1.4%, p < 0.001) and fever (1.4%vs. 0.4%, p < 0.03). There were no differences in nausea, vomiting or diarrhea between the two groups. There were no differences in the incidence of vomiting, diarrhea or fever for newborns.
Conclusions: Misoprostol is associated with a significant increase in postpartum maternal shivering and fever with no side effects for the newborn. Given its proven efficacy for the prevention of PPH, the benefits of misoprostol are greater than the associated risks.