Lyrica (pregabalin) is used to treat diabetic nerve pain, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, post-herpetic neuraligia caused by shingles and spinal cord injury. It is also prescribed “off label”, meaning it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administraton (FDA), but specified for other uses. It is often prescribed for psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression, reports the Pain News Network.
A new study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, stated that tests indicate that Lyrica increases the risk of major birth defects. The study found that women taking pregabalin were six times more likely to have a pregnancy with major birth defects than women who were not taking the drug. Heart defects and problems with the central nervous system (CNS) or other organs were the problems revealed in the study.
Lyrica has been prescribed for more than nine million people since 2005. Researchers collected data from pregnant women in 7 different countries to test for the potential link to birth defects. Of the women participating in the study, 164 took pregabalin and 656 did not. When researchers analyzed the pregnancies where pregabalin was taken during the first trimester, 7 out of 116 pregnancies, or 6 percent, had major birth defects compared to 12 out of the 580 pregnancies, or 2 percent, where pregabalin was not taken. Chromosomal birth defects were not included in the study, according to Medical Daily.
In a press release, study author Dr. Ursula Winterfeld said, “We can’t draw definitive conclusions from this study, since many of the women who were taking pregabalin were taking other drugs that could have played a role in the birth defects. The study was small and the results need to be confirmed with larger studies, but these results do signal that there may be an increased risk for major birth defects after taking pregabalin during the first trimester of pregnancy,” reported Medical Daily.