USA- Mdedge.com writes that maternal use of opioids both immediately before conception and during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of babies being born with certain birth defects.
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG) linked the following conditions with a pregnant mother’s use of opioid pain killers such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Opana, Kadian, and Avinza:
- Spina bifida
- Atrioventricular septal defect
- Conotruncal defects
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Ventricular septal defect
- L ventricular outflow obstruction
- Hypoplastic Left heart syndrome
- R ventricular outflow obstruction
- Pulmonary valve stenosis
- Cleft palate
- Esophageal atresia
- Anorectal atresia/ stenosis
- Diaphragmatic hernia
The medications involved are frequently used to treat severe pain. These medications might be prescribed to a patient who had just undergone surgery, patients suffering from certain infections, and patients who suffer from chronic pain.
Certain defects, including ventricular septal defects, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and hydrocephaly all were much more likely to occur in an infant whose mother used opioids immediately before their pregnancy or while they were pregnant. Atrioventricular septal defects and spina bifida were both about twice as likely in babies who had prenatal exposure to opioids.
The authors wrote that while there is limited data regarding the use of opioids by pregnant women and some evidence of adverse effects from maternal opioid use, the treatment was still often considered safe for pregnant women.
The researchers who conducted the AJOG study wrote that the results should indicate that physicians and patients need to consider the risks presented by treatment with these drugs during pregnancy and that women of childbearing age should be informed of the risks prior to being prescribed opioids.
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