• New Study Links Prenatal Opioid Use and Birth Defects
  • January 14, 2019
  • Researchers found a link between opioid painkillers use just before or during pregnancy and birth defects in a growing fetus.

    Birth Defects and Opioids

    Two to three percent of participating mothers in the CDC study reported treatment with opioid painkillers just before or during early pregnancy. The reasons for treatment included surgical procedures, infections, chronic diseases, injuries, and other reasons. Researchers found opioid treatment in these periods was associated with several defects including congenital heart disease, which are contributors to infant health and death rates. In addition, treatment with opioid pain relievers was linked to:

    • Spina bifida (a type of neural tube defect)
    • Hydrocephaly (buildup of fluid in the brain)
    • Glaucoma (an eye defect)
    • Gastroschisis (a defect of the abdominal wall)

    Deceptive Marketing Practices and Opioids

    Drug manufacturers tried to convince doctors and regulators that opioids were safe for effective for long-term use while ignoring the dangerous side effects such as addiction, overdose, and even death. They did this with misleading articles and advertisements that downplay the dangerous side effects of opioids. Likewise, drugmakers often use respected “thought leaders” who encourage overprescribing and drug benefits.