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Use Of Opioid Painkillers During Pregnancy Linked To Increased Risk Of Birth Defects

29 January 2015No Comments

paxil birth defectA new report issued last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that women who become pregnant while taking opioid painkiller medications may be at risk for giving birth to babies with severe birth defects. The most common types of birth defects in babies are neural tube birth defects, which are characterized by a hole in the brain or spinal cord, and can result in major malformations like spina bifida and defects impacting the formation of the brain. If your child was born with a major birth defect like spina bifida, and you believe a potentially defective pharmaceutical drug to be the cause, our product liability lawyers at Bandas Law Firm can help.

Opioid Prescriptions in Pregnancy

The potential risk of birth defects from opioid painkiller use during early pregnancy is alarming, largely because many women of childbearing age taking these medications may expose their unborn baby to severe health problems before they are even aware that they are pregnant. In its report, the CDC notes that more than one-third (39%) of women between the ages of 15 to 44 who were enrolled in Medicaid filled a prescription for an opioid painkiller like morphine or oxycodone between 2008 and 2012. Approximately one-quarter (28%) of women of childbearing age with private health insurance filled a painkiller prescription during the same period of time.

Birth Defects from Opioid Painkillers

“Taking opioid medications early in pregnancy can cause birth defects and serious problems for the infant and the mother,” said CDC director Tom Frieden in the report. “Many women of reproductive age are taking these medicines and may not know they are pregnant and therefore may be unknowingly exposing their unborn child. That’s why it’s critical for health care professionals to take a thorough health assessment before prescribing these medicines to women of reproductive age.” The CDC reports that the use of opioid painkillers during pregnancy may be linked to severe birth defects like heart malformations, neural tube defects, and an abdominal wall problem known as gastrochisis.

A Qualified Drug Injury Attorney Can Help

This CDC report comes after the agency funded a study in September 2013, which found that women who used opioid painkillers during pregnancy faced a 2.2-fold increased risk of giving birth to a child with a birth defect. Other widely-used prescription medications, like Depakote, Topamax, Paxil, and other anticonvulsants and antidepressants have been linked to a higher risk of congenital defects in babies exposed to the drugs during pregnancy. If you took an opioid painkiller or another prescription drug while pregnant, and your child was born with a serious birth defect, contact our knowledgeable drug injury lawyers at Bandas Law Firm today for legal help.


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