Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors criticise Indian government’s advice to delay oxytocin at childbirth

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 20 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6611

Doctors and maternal health experts have questioned the scientific rationale and ethics of an Indian health ministry announcement that calls on obstetric staff to delay giving oxytocin to women after childbirth until the uterus has expelled the placenta.

The experts have emphasised that the advice deviates from World Health Organization guidelines practised worldwide, including in India. These recommend that oxytocin should be administered within a minute of birth to lower the risk of postpartum haemorrhage.

The health ministry included its suggestion on oxytocin in an advisory notice sent to health officials throughout India on 6 November, primarily recommending delayed cord clamping, a practice widely accepted to be beneficial to newborns.

“Prophylactic oxytocin should not be administered immediately after birth . . . but only after the delivery of placenta,” it said, citing two …

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