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Opiate Painkillers May Cause Birth Defects During Pregnancy

Prescription painkillers are some of the most prescribed medications in the United States. Many people are prescribed them for chronic pain. Since the late 1990's, prescription painkillers have been prescribed pretty liberally.  Hydrocodone is now the number one prescribed medication in the country. If you are on a long-term prescription for painkillers and you are trying to get pregnant, it may be in your best interest to stop using.  Recent medical reports state there are birth defect risks of using opiates while pregnant.

I speak to many women a year who face this battle. They may not be addicted to their medications but if they are dependent on them and fear the withdrawal symptoms. I always recommend that they speak to their healthcare professional immediately about their options. You never want to lie about what medications you are taking when you become pregnant because the only thing that should matter is the health of the the mother and baby.

The scariest thing about opiates is that they do not need to be taken for a long period of time to cause damage to the baby. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-fourth of women who might become pregnant are getting prescriptions for opiate painkillers, such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. These medications can cause birth defects and other serious problems early in pregnancy.

Previous studies of opiate use during pregnancy suggest the painkillers could increase risk of major defects of the baby's brain, spine, heart and abdominal wall.  This is the first time that the CDC has looked into opiate painkillers specifically among women of child-bearing age.  This is important because many mothers do not realize they are pregnant until well after the first few weeks and half of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, officials said.

CDC researchers analyzed data from 2008 to 2012 from two sets of data for women age 15 to 44: those with private insurance and those enrolled in Medicaid. They found that, on average, 39 percent of Medicaid-enrolled women filled at least one opiate prescription each year compared to 28 percent of women with private insurance.

If you are sexually active, not using protection and are using opiate painkillers, it is in your best interest to research the dangers you may face. If you are not prescribed these medications and you are taking them for recreational purposes, it is highly recommended that you stop immediately. Withdrawal is a tough experience to go through but it is necessary to get clean. Everyone must face it eventually and you are better off getting clean now before risking you or your baby's health.


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