Study Links Serious Birth Defects to Painkillers Taken in Pregnancy

Painkiller Birth Defect Risk

Written by Faith Anderson on September 18, 2013
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Study Links Serious Birth Defects to Painkillers Taken in Pregnancy

New research suggests that pregnant women who take prescription painkillers may more than double their risk of giving birth to a child with serious birth defects.

Defective DrugAccording to the findings of a new study, pregnant women who take certain opioid painkillers, such as Percocet, Vicodin or Oxycontin, could have more than double the risk of giving birth to a child with spina bifida or another life-altering neural tube birth defect. The study, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published online last week by the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that babies born to women who take prescriptions painkillers in pregnancy may have a 2.2-fold increased risk of suffering from a serious birth defect. If you took a potentially dangerous medication while pregnant and your child was born with spina bifida or another devastating birth defect, contact a knowledgeable lawyer in your area to discuss the possibility of filing a product liability claim against the drug manufacturing company.

Painkillers May Interfere with Fetal Development

In the birth defect study, researchers analyzed 12 years of data from an ongoing study called the Slone Epidemiology Center Birth Defects study, conducting telephone interviews with mothers within six months of childbirth. Mothers of 305 children born with neural tube defects were compared to those of more than 20,000 babies divided into two other groups – one consisting of healthy babies and one consisting of babies with other types of birth defects that weren’t related to opioid use. They found that, with study participants’ use of prescription opioids, the risk of neural tube birth defects elevated to nearly six per 10,000 life births.

Neural tube birth defects typically take place during the first trimester of pregnancy, at a time when many women are unaware that they are pregnant. The malformation occurs when the spinal column fails to close properly during fetal development, resulting in birth defects like spina bifida, or when most of the brain and skull fail to develop properly, resulting in a devastating birth defect like anencephaly. This latest study echoes findings from previous researcher linking life-threatening birth defects to opioid painkiller use in pregnancy.

Contact a Product Liability Lawyer in Your Area

According to a government report issued in January 2013, prescription painkillers are second only to marijuana when it comes to drug abuse, with roughly 22 million Americans misusing painkillers since 2002. Unfortunately, the prevalence of opioid use among pregnant women ranges from 2% to 20%, and includes drugs like oxycodone (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin) and codeine, which raises serious concerns about the potential harm these medications could cause unborn children. If your child was born with spina bifida, anencephaly, or another major birth defect, and you believe a potentially defective pharmaceutical drug to be at fault, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help put you in touch with a skilled product liability attorney in your area.

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Posted Under: Drugs During Pregnancy, News, United States
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