Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Opioids and Birth Defects

Opioid medications are strong pain relievers, often used in combination with such other analgesics as aspirin or acetaminophen and sometimes in prescription cough suppressants.  Recent studies reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology have indicated that birth defects may occur more frequently when the mother was exposed to these medications in the first trimester, suggesting the safest course would be to avoid these substances in the month before and the first few months of pregnancy.  Considering the fact that many pregnancies are not planned, it would be ideal for all women of reproductive years to use caution with these substances.  Risk and benefits must be considered and about 3% of all live births in the U.S. are effected by birth defects, so a slight increase due to opioid use may not represent a large number increase. 

Examples (from WebMD)

Generic Name Brand Name
buprenorphine Buprenex
butorphanol Stadol
codeine Tylenol with codeine
fentanyl Duragesic
hydrocodone Vicodin
hydromorphone Dilaudid
methadone Dolophine
morphine Astramorph
oxycodone OxyContin
propoxyphene Darvon
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