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Tocolytics are medications used to suppress premature labor (from the Greek tokos, childbirth, and lytic, capable of dissolving). They are given when delivery would result in premature birth. The therapy also buys time for the administration of betamethasone, a glucocorticoid drug which greatly accelerate fetal lung maturity, but takes one to two days to work.
Additional recommended knowledge
The suppression of contractions is often only partial and tocolytics can only be relied on to delay birth for several days. Depending on the tocolytic used the mother or fetus may require monitoring, as for instance blood pressure monitoring when nifedipine is used as it reduces blood pressure. In any case the risk of preterm labor alone justifies hospitalization.
Types of agents
Various types of agents are used, with varying success rates and side effects. Some medications are not specifically FDA approved for use in stopping uterine contractions in preterm labor, instead being used off label. Nifedipine is one of the most commonly used tocolytic agents.
Ethyl alcohol was frequently prescribed as a tocolytic in the mid-20th century, but later double-blind studies found it was not effective.
Contraindications to Tocolysis
Several factors may contraindicate delaying birth with the use of tocolytic medications. 
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tocolytic". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|