Terbutaline linked to Autism

February 22, 2011

Terbutaline linked to Autism

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, injectable terbutaline is not safe for use in pregnant women for prevention or prolonged treatment of preterm labor. The FDA warns there is a potential for serious maternal heart problems and death if doctors use terbutaline beyond 48-72 hours of prolonged treatment in a hospital or outpatient setting. The FDA’s report goes on to state that the agency is against any use of oral tablet terbutaline in pregnant women for prevention of preterm labor.

Doctors prescribe terbutaline for asthma. However, the drug is used off-label, meaning for a purpose other than what Food and Drug Administration approves, for slowing or stopping preterm labor and for calming uterine hyperactive stimulation, according to the FDA. The FDA ruled to require a Boxed Warning and Contraindication based on safety reports of heart problems and death related to terbutaline use in obstetric cases. Terbutaline crosses the placental barrier and blood-brain barrier of the fetus, which may lead to an autistic-spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders.

A recent study conducted at Duke University illustrated the risk of terbutaline to infants. The study found an increased risk of brain damage and cognitive deficits in babies whose mothers were treated with terbutaline during preterm labor. The study showed that the use of terbutaline may predispose babies to autism and that it may make the brain more vulnerable to toxins.

“Although the FDA’s recent requirement of a warning against the use of terbutaline for preterm labor use is cause for relief, the missing mention of a connection between prolonged use of terbutaline therapy and aspergers, PDD (pervasive development disorder), or autism is of concern,” says Richard Dodd, a senior partner with Cappolino Dodd Krebs LLP. “Sure, we should not use terbutaline when studies show no benefit and increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events. But the warnings should also mention the connection of autistic type results from the prolonged use of this powerful drug, terbutaline sulfate (Brethine). I have known families that suffer from the results of this high risk for years and intend to get enough attention to stop the use of terbutaline for preterm labor. This is a good warning, but since it is the second one of similar language, it is not enough,” states Dodd.

Some medical experts estimate that autistic disorder incidents have increased over 172% since 1990. These findings leave parents of autistic children looking for answers as well as causes of autism in children. Toxins and bad medical drugs, including vaccinations, are often the leading suspects of autism disorders. Two studies, one in the US at Columbia University and one in Britain by St. George’s Hospital Medical School found a higher rate of autism among twins. The rate of autism in identical twins was 12-14 times higher and autism in fraternal twins was about 3 times higher than the general population. Fraternal twins form when two separate eggs are fertilized by separate sperm. Unlike identical twins, fraternal twins do not share the same genetic blueprint.

Publisher: Salient News

19 comments on “Terbutaline linked to Autism”

Rick Dodd

This not really “news” to us. We have for a long time suspected genetics to be a key factor regarding the development of the autism. When studies indicate an environmental cause, they should be considered as noteworthy. Because fraternal twins who have been diagnosed within the Asperger’s disease spectrum shared a special environment, but not the same DNA, I believe their history can help us determine an environmental cause. Since there is testing available to rule out the genetic factors, there may be some accountability for those responsible.

Catherine, My son is 19 and is experiencing a sudden and severe brain disorder. He has had language, digestive, respiratory and learning problems all his life, but just a few months ago he became severely disabled, not even able to recognize his own sister. Several trips to the ER and even more to the doctor and several psychiatrists, endless blood, urine, spinal, and just about every test later and they do not know what caused this. After doing some research on the use of Terbutaline, I am wondering if indeed this could be a long term effect of the drug. Apparently they never did any testing on unborn children until we the patients started having some serious complaints about why our children had all these problems. We will not know the effects on our children’s children until they also start complaining and it gets reported.


I am furious at this!!! I was given Terbutaline for 11 weeks of my pregnancy to stop preterm labor. My Dr’s told me that it would not harm the baby. My DS was diagnosed with Autism at 20 months old. He is now 3 and has made great strides, but he has many daily struggles.


I took terbutaline for 4 1/2 months while pregnant with my boy/girl twins. I was not aware of the connection between this drug and autism until it was written in a report at school “suspected autism due to terbutaline taken by mother during pregnancy”. After 7 1/2 years of fertility treatments and a miscarriage I thought this was our only option however; no one ever said it was harmful to the babies. My son is a 17-year-old aspergers kid, although high functioning he is “odd” and does not fit well in society. I worry for him as an adult.



My son is now 14 and he has had problems his entire life
“fitting in.” I took terbutaline by pump for 2 months. I have yet to find a doctor or psychiatrist to actually read the information I present to them regarding his behaviors and the possible relation to the terbutaline. All the doctors take the information and sit it aside, never even reading it. All I want is what is best for my child, but no one seems to be able to help. I also worry about his future and only want him to be happy and healthy and loved. He has been put on all kinds of stimulants for ADD but none have helped. Now he is off all medications and barely getting by in school. He is a bright child and always scores well on the FCAT, but without constant supervision, he will not do his work. Called his psychologist again today to talk more.


To all of those who are angry and seeking revenge, the problems your children are experiencing, possibly as a side effect of a medication, are very unfortunate,but you need to realize that no one was trying to hide anything from anyone. Your doctors didn’t tell you about a risk of autism because it wasn’t a known risk. The drug companies were also unaware of this risk. Many side effects are discovered after medications are released to the public simply because it is impossible to identify all of them in studies. This is especially true of side effects in pregnancy because very few studies are allowed to include pregnant women. Medical professionals do the best they can with the knowledge available, and fortunately, we learn more everyday so we can do a better job in the future.

Ellen Gates

this medication was given to me for to long, consoderomg it was being used off label, which I was not made aware of, I believe the more appropriate treatmemt would have been to give it short term while they gave him the meds that would have increased the the growth and functioning of his lungs. He has multiple psuchiatric issues, learning disabilities, as well as high functioning form of autism, to which there is no treatment. I was never motified that this medication was being used off label, amd whem asked what the side effects or effect on the baby may be I was simply told if I didn’t take it he’d be born premature, no other info was given. I believe that they should have given me this medication short term while they treated his lungs so if he ws born a premie he’d have been given a fighting chance. He now has multiple psychiatric issues, and a high functioning form of autism, to which there is no cure. While I get the run around trying to get him SSI benefits, this causes a hardship on our family,. I am also disabled due to spinal injuries, and can see that they are taking advantage of the sitution. Why can they not be sued for using off label medications (which I was on my entire third trimester) when I wasn’t even allowed to take antibiotics during my pregnancy. I’ll give you one more, I didn’t even eat margarine, cold cuts, or anthing else that may cause risk to my child to protect him. I would never have agreed to this medication had I been given all of the information available at the time, unless it was short term to treat his lungs so that the lonterm treatment woujld not have been necessary. I did eerything in my power to protect this baby, and because I was lied to he was born with serious psychatric and learining disorders. Despite everything I did, once on this medication my baby never stood a chance, I beleieve any medicastions used on a pregnant mother have serious consequences to the fetus, and the fact that they had me on this off label medication for long term treatment is neglegence on the part of the pharmaceutical company who bsugested that it was safe and effective without proper studies. Now my son is permanently disabled with an illness to which there is no cure. Someone must be responsible. What will happen to him once my husbsnd and I are gone? A group home, which will drive him crazy because noises aggitate him and cause very fast decompansdation, among other normal day to day situatuions, please call me at 6318030714 or I will contact another attorney


I was 20 weeks when I started having contractions and the dr’s gave me terbutaline in a shot, contractions stoped I was sent home….and started contractions again a week or 2 later, went back in got another shot. Checked in with my ob with in a few days and was sent home with a prescription of terbutaline pills! I felt shaky and it felt like I didn’t have control/anxious! and I still had my son at 36 weeks. He has speech delays, low muscle tone, ADHD,ODD, sensory and texture issues, old static encephalopathy(under the umbrella for mild cerebral palsy)chronic constipation, and we are on a waiting list to be evaluated for the autism spectrum disorder(high functioning)! I hope a law suit comes about from all these children and their families affected by Terbutaline!!


I was hospitalized with my twins in 1998 on bed rest at 27 weeks they put me on the terbutiline pump for 6 weeks and i had my boys at 33 weeks. One of my twins is fine the other had speach problems and was in therapy from age 4 to 9 yrs old. He is very intelligent. around age 6 he started with facial tics and ocd. I took him to a neurologist at Johns Hopkins and he was diagnosed with Asperger’s. he outgrew the facial tics and is an A student. at age 8 he started having anxiety attacks really bad he was on meds and seeing a therapist until age 13 they tried to take him off the meds and 4 months later now age 14 his anxiety attacks are worse then ever. I feel this is all due to the terbutiline i was given.

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