Electrical therapy may prevent early births

Researchers report that application of a weak electrical current inhibits uterine contractions in pregnant rats and rabbits and therefore may serve as a new method of preventing preterm delivery.

Electrical inhibition of uterine contractions offers several potential advantages over currently used medical therapies to prevent preterm birth, note the investigators. It targets just the uterus and it can be started and stopped rapidly, they explain in a report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

In the study, Dr. Jeffrey Karsdon, from New York Downtown Hospital, and colleagues evaluated the effects of direct or transvaginal electrical currents on uterine pressure in pregnant rats and rabbits.

They found that this therapy cut intrauterine pressure by 80 percent and dramatically delayed the birth of rat pups, particularly when given directly. In rabbits, electrical inhibition reduced intrauterine pressure by 48 percent.

“This study supports the hypothesis that a weak electrical current can inhibit preterm and term uterine contractions,” the authors state. “Whether electrical inhibition will be as effective in the human in the prevention of preterm birth remains to be seen.”

SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology December 2005.

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Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.