Women who were treated with opioid analgesics during or just before pregnancy have a higher risk of having a child with a birth defect, report researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The results are part of the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, a large case-control study that was launched in 1997 and is ongoing (Broussard CS et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2010.12.039 [published online ahead of print February 23, 2011]). Cheryl S. Broussard, PhD, of CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, and her colleagues found that 2.6% of the 17 449 participants who had a child with a birth defect reported opioid use 1 month before to 3 months after conception, and 2.0% of the 6701 control mothers reported using such a medication during this period. Those who used an opioid analgesic had an increased risk for having a child with heart defects such as conoventricular septal defects, artrioventricular septal defects, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, as well as spina bifida, gastroschisis, hydrocephaly, or glaucoma.
Kuehn BM. Pregnancy Drug Risks. JAMA. 2011;305(16):1646. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.534