Written by By Angie Choi, CNN
Medical experts are closely monitoring a positive early study of a new contraceptive that could prevent pregnant women from passing a disease on to their children.
A new study reported Wednesday that the contraceptive is 99% effective in preventing the pregnancy of children born to women who use it for six years.
The findings were from a 50-country study that compared various methods of contraception, and that overall effective rate was only 90%. The most effective methods were condoms, the pill, and the IUD, which can be inserted through the cervix.
The UK-based firm who developed the contraceptive reported they are in discussions with major medical associations and may soon be able to file for regulatory approval.
In countries around the world where contraception is not widely available, some expectant mothers could be at risk for passing an infection onto their unborn children, like HIV, gonorrhea, or HPV.
Public health experts say it’s impossible to tell how serious the new contraceptive could be yet, but they are waiting to see if the labeling for the birth control includes a recommendation that pregnant women use it, says Dr. Marisa Brady, an OB/GYN at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“The data is promising but is very limited to just one time point, so it’s impossible to know how effective it will be over the long term,” Brady says. “However, to date with all the other contraceptives we know they are relatively safe, they’re not a drug that can cause serious reactions or high death rates.”
Brady says it’s also important to understand the complications that occur when pregnant women use the contraceptive method that the study describes. They include endometriosis, hysterectomy, miscarriage and suicide.
Dr. Victor Brahm, an OB/GYN who was not involved in the study, says it’s too early to tell if the new contraceptive will prove to be dangerous.
“It’s impossible to predict, really, because there’s no other study like this,” Brahm says. “What’s in the label will dictate whether it’s a good or bad device. What we saw in the label in the study is good, and that’s what we hope to see in the label, and not something that’s not good, but something not so good.”