Gastrointestinal Drug Safe for Use in Pregnant Mares

Misoprostol, which can cause abortion in humans, is used to prevent or treat right dorsal colitis in horses.
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Many medications, for all the good they do, can also come with some potentially negative side effects. Just think of the laundry list of disclaimers you hear at the end of pharmaceutical commercials. For horses, it’s no different.

Take, for instance, the gastrointestinal cytoprotectant misoprostol: This drug used to prevent or treat right dorsal colitis (an ulcerative inflammatory condition of the colon) in horses has abortigenic properties in humans. So is it safe to administer to pregnant mares? Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center have been conducting studies to gather safety data that veterinarians and owners can use to weigh the risks and benefits of misoprostol treatment.

Co-author and reproduction resident Jennifer Linton, VMD, presented their results at the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 6–10 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In women, misoprostol is used to purposefully terminate pregnancies, Linton explained. In those pregnancies that do continue to term in spite of treatment, the resulting babies sometimes suffer from neurologic, musculoskeletal, and cognitive defects

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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