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Health Agencies Update
April 27, 2011

Pregnancy Drug Risks

JAMA. 2011;305(16):1646. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.534

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.