Effects of tocolysis with nifedipine or atosiban on child outcome: follow-up of the APOSTEL III trial

T. M.S. van Winden, J. Klumper, C. E. Kleinrouweler, M. A. Tichelaar, C. A. Naaktgeboren, T. A. Nijman, A. L. van Baar, A. G. van Wassenaer-Leemhuis, T. J. Roseboom, J. van’t Hooft, C. Roos, B. W. Mol, E. Pajkrt, M. A. Oudijk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To compare the long-term effects of tocolysis with nifedipine or atosiban on child outcome at age 2.5–5.5 years. Design: The APOSTEL III trial was a multicentre randomised controlled trial that compared tocolysis with nifedipine or atosiban in 503 women with threatened preterm birth. Neonatal outcomes did not differ between both treatment arms, except for a higher incidence of intubation in the atosiban group. Methods: Parents were asked to complete four questionnaires regarding neurodevelopment, executive function, behaviour problems and general health. Main outcome measures: The main long-term outcome measure was a composite of abnormal development at the age of 2.5–5.5 years. Results: Of the 426 women eligible for follow-up, 196 (46%) parents returned the questionnaires for 115 children in the nifedipine group and 110 children in the atosiban group. Abnormal development occurred in 32 children (30%) in the nifedipine group and in 38 children (38%) in the atosiban group (OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.41–1.34). The separate outcomes for neurodevelopment, executive function, behaviour, and general health showed no significant differences between the groups. Sensitivity analysis for all children of the APOSTEL III trial, including a comparison of deceased children, resulted in a higher rate of healthy survival in the nifedipine group (64 versus 54%), but there was no significant difference in the overall mortality rate (5.4 versus 2.7%). There were no significant subgroup effects. Conclusion: Outcomes on broad child neurodevelopment, executive function, behaviour and general health were comparable in both groups. Neither nifedipine nor atosiban can be considered as the preferred treatment for women with threatened preterm birth. Tweetable abstract: Nifedipine- and atosiban-exposed children had comparable long-term outcomes, including neurodevelopment, executive function and behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1137
Number of pages9
JournalBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

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