Taking prescription painkillers while pregnant has been linked to an increased number of birth defects.
Based on a recent study at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, painkillers which are classified as codeine, oxycodone and hydrocodone increase the risk of a mother to delivering babies with congenital heart defects, many of whom will die within the first year of life according to statistics.
Other malformations seen include cleft palate, hydrocephalus, congenital glaucoma, and spina bifida, a condition where the spinal column does not close properly. This study included more than 17,000 women from 10 different states who gave birth to babies with malformations from 1997 to 2005. They were asked about what medications they took before they conceived and during their first trimester, that period wherein the fetus develops. About 2.6% reveal they have taken opioids as painkillers. As a control group, about 7,000 women who gave birth during this period but whose babies had no malformations were also interviewed, and about 2% of them admit to have taken painkillers, too.
Dr. Cheryl Broussard, lead author of the new study, concludes that the likelihood of strong painkillers taken during pregnancy causing birth defects is very low.
Dr. David Haas of the Indiana Institute for Personalized Medicine said that “the most important thing is that women have a discussion with their doctor about the risks and benefits of taking these medications early in pregnancy when they have an underlying medical condition that calls for strong painkillers