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Birth defects following maternal exposure to ergotamine, beta blockers, and caffeine.
  1. H E Hughes,
  2. D A Goldstein
  1. Institute of Medical Genetics, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.


    Ergotamine exposure during pregnancy has been suggested to cause birth defects which have a vascular disruptive aetiology. The present case provides additional support for the possible adverse fetal effects of exposure to ergotamine, caffeine, and propranolol during the first four months of pregnancy. At birth the infant showed evidence of early arrested cerebral maturation and paraplegia. The nature of these defects suggests a primary vascular disruptive aetiology. We hypothesise that ergotamine, acting either alone or in synergy with propranolol and caffeine, produced fetal vasoconstriction resulting in tissue ischaemia and subsequent malformation. This case raises the possibility that fetal malformation may result from concomitant use of multiple vasoconstrictive agents during pregnancy.

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