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Painkiller Birth Defect Lawsuit

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In recent years, researchers have linked the use of painkillers during pregnancy to an increased risk of birth defects. If you took an opioid painkiller (OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, etc.) and had a baby with a neural tube defect, heart defect, or other congenital malformation, contact our lawyers regarding a potential lawsuit.

UPDATE: FDA Urges Caution for Painkillers During Pregnancy

January 9, 2015 — The FDA has issued a Safety Communication to announce that a review of a dozen studies has found inconclusive evidence linking the use of common painkillers during pregnancy with birth defects. Click here to read more.

September 18, 2013 — The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology has published a study linking the use of opioid painkillers to a 2.2-fold increased risk of all birth defects, and a 2.5-fold increased risk of spina bifida. Click here to read more.

Study Links Popular Painkillers and Birth Defects

January 5, 2012 — Maternal use of certain types of over-the-counter painkillers during the first trimester of pregnancy has been linked to rare birth defects, according to a new study. Aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), and ibuprofen have been linked to birth defects of the eyes and physical deformities, including spina bifida. Previous research has linked opioid painkillers (such as codeine, hydrocodone, Oxycontin, and others) to an increased risk of heart defects.

The findings of the study of aspirin, ibuprofen, and Aleve found the following results:

  • Babies were more than three times more likely to be born with birth defects of the eye — including no eyes, or abnormally small eyes that cause blindness. These defects are also known as anopthalmia and microphthalmia, and occur in one out of 5,300 live births in the U.S.
  • Babies were three times more likely to develop amniotic band syndrome, which causes physical deformities including clubfoot. This deformity occurs in one out of 10,000 live births in the U.S.
  • The risk of cleft lip or cleft palate rose by 30-80%
  • The risk of spina bifida rose by 60%

The researchers recommend that women take Tylenol for pain during pregnancy, because it is generally considered safe to use. Tylenol works through a different mechanism than aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen (Aleve), which all belong to a class of drugs called NSAIDs.

Other Studies of Painkillers and Birth Defects

Previous research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studied the effect of opioid painkillers on a developing fetus. The CDC researchers used information from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, analyzing nearly 17,500 interviews of women who had babies with birth defects. The researchers found that 2.6% of the women reported using opioid painkillers during pregnancy, most commonly codeine and hydrocodone.

They found that the use of these opioid painkillers increased the risk of having a baby with congenital heart defects. The risk of hypoplastic left heart syndrome was more than twice as high. Other increases were found for spina bifida, congenital glaucoma, and hydrocephaly. These conditions can be life-threatening.

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