Friday, March 4, 2011

Pain Killers Increase Risk Of Birth Defects

A new study published online February 24, 2011 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that taking opioid pain medications such as codeine, vicodin and morphine before conception or in early pregnancy can increase a woman's risk of delivering infants with birth defects by 2- to 3-fold. These birth defects range from serious heart problems to spina bifida and gastroschisis, a defect in which an infant's intestines stick out of the body because of a problem with the umbilical cord. Keep in mind, however, that the numbers of major birth defects are low to begin with, affecting approximately 3% of the 4 million live births each year in the United States. Congenital heart defects affect approximately 1% of U.S. newborns. As always, more studies are needed to verify these findings. Since the authors didn't have acces to dosing data, we don't know whether any opioid exposure is unsafe, or that some exposure is okay. Furthermore, the study results could all be due to chance. Whatever the case may be, the possible association between opioid use during pregnancy and birth defects should be enough for doctors and patients to think twice before using these medications. [via Medscape]

Thanks to Kosmix Corporation / RightHealth

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