Common Painkillers may raise risk of birth defects

According to a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the study indicated an association between use of the drugs and a modest risk of congenital heart defects, as well as a heightened risk for spina bifida, hydrocephaly, congenital glaucoma and gastroschisis and was reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The analysis was based on the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (1997 to 2005) including data gathered from across 10 states. CDC researchers found that between 2 percent and 3 percent of mothers who took prescription painkillers such as codeine, hydrocodone or oxycodone (Oxycontin) either just prior to becoming pregnant or early in their pregnancy,  the risk of their newborn having a serious heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome was nearly twice that of women who did not receive these drugs.

The risks are affected by factors such as the amount of medication taken, whether other medications are taken in addition to the opioid drugs, at what stage of pregnancy the drugs are taken, and other health conditions of the mother-to-be. In addition, the report authors pointed out that the risks associated with these drugs in any one pregnancy remains small.

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