A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, shows a link between prescription pain medications and birth defects. The study showed an increased risk when women took oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone or other opioids either right before getting pregnant or during the first trimester.
Since the 1970s doctors have known about the link between opioid painkillers and birth defects, although many chose to ignore the information and prescribe these medicines to pregnant women, according to Cheryl Broussard of the CDC.
The study showed the link between the opioids and the following birth defects:
- Hypoplastic left heart syndrome – a fatal condition if not treated that causes the left side of the heart to not develop properly
- Spina bifida – a condition that causes the backbone and spinal canal not to close before birth
- Congenital hydrocephaly – a condition that can cause the child to become mentally disabled
- Gastroschisis – a condition in which the intestines are outsides of the child’s body
- Congenital glaucoma
While the study notes that the risk of birth defects only increased slightly with the use of the pain killers by expectant mothers, it is an increased risk none-the-less. Because the risk is known, your doctor should discuss the possible complications to your child before prescribing the pain killers to you.
If you were prescribed opioids while pregnant and you child suffered a birth defect, speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.