A study of the effects of large doses of glutethimide that were used for self-poisoning during pregnancy on human fetuses

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Animal investigations showed some embryolethal and teratogenic effects of glutethimide, a piperidindion derivative non-barbital hypnotic drug. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of very large doses of glutethimide that were used for a suicide attempt during pregnancy on the embryo-fetal development of exposed children. Self-poisoned pregnant women were identified from the population of female patients of the Department of Toxicology Internal Medicine, Korányi Hospital, Budapest who had been admitted from the 3 million people of Budapest and its surrounding region. The rates of congenital abnormalities, intrauterine fetal development (based on birth weight and pregnancy age at delivery) and cognitive-behavioral status of exposed children born to mothers who attempted suicide with glutethimide alone or in combination with other drugs during pregnancy were compared with their sib controls. Of 1044 pregnant women with self-poisoning during pregnancy between 1960 and 1993, 33 used glutethimide for a suicide attempt sixteen of these women delivered live-born infants. The dose of glutethimide ranged between 1000 and 15,000 mg with a mean of 4234 mg. Of the 16 exposed children, five were male and 11 were female. Three exposed children were affected with congenital abnormalities (atrial septal defect type II, pectus carinatum, fetal alcohol syndrome). Of their 16 matched unexposed sib pairs, two had congenital abnormalities. The mean birth weight of the exposed children was somewhat larger due to somewhat longer pregnancy age at delivery. Cognitive status and behavioral scale of the exposed children did not indicate a fetotoxic (including neurotoxic) effect of large doses of glutethimide. Very large doses of glutethimide used for a suicide attempt by 16 pregnant women did not produce teratogenic or fetotoxic (including neurotoxic) effects in their children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalToxicology and Industrial Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - febr. 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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