Prescription Painkillers in Pregnancy Linked to Birth Defects

Pregnant women who take prescription opioid painkillers such as codeine, hydrocodone or Oxycontin might be increasing the risk of birth defects in their children.

Taking these drugs just prior to pregnancy, or in the early stages of pregnancy, has been linked to a risk of congenital heart defects.  The risk for spina bifida, hydrocephaly, congenital glaucoma and gastroschisis was also heightened.

Business Week reports:

“In the study of data from 10 states, the CDC researchers found that 2 percent to 3 percent of mothers interviewed received prescription opioid pain killers, or analgesics, just before they got pregnant or early in their pregnancy. Any illicit use of painkillers was not assessed.  For those women, the risk of having a baby with hypoplastic left heart syndrome -- a critical heart defect -- was about double that of women who took no opioid drugs.”

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