Ocytocin is a medicine with properties which can cause or stimulate contractions of the uterus. It is used in childbirth and the final stage of delivery when the placenta is delivered. This synthetic hormone was developed on the model of ocytocin produced naturally by the body.
Ocytocin stimulates contraction of the uterine smooth muscle cells. The sensitivity of the uterus to the hormone increases naturally during pregnancy. Intravenous synthetic ocytocin is therefore administered when the uterine contractions are not sufficiently regular or powerful. It is also given to prevent and treat post-partum haemorrhage.
Administration of ocytocin to neonates, particularly premature babies, increases the incidence of hyerbilirubinaemia. This rise in bilrubin concentrations in the blood (bilirubin is the main bile pigment) can cause jaundice (or icterus). It also carries a risk of overstimulation with foetal hypoxia. The result of this is that the amount of oxygen distributed by blood to tissues is reduced. Consequently, ocytocin can only be administered under strict supervision, usually in a hospital.
Synthetic ocytocin is an analogue of the hormone produced naturally by the body. © Phovoir