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article imageHealth warning over opioid painkillers and pregnancy

By Tim Sandle     Feb 1, 2015 in Health
Washington - Opioid medications are commonly used among women of reproductive age. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that taking these medications early in pregnancy can increase the risk for some birth defects.
An opioid is any chemical that resembles morphine or other opiates in its pharmacological effects. Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors, which are found principally in the central and peripheral nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract.
It has been estimated, in the U.S., that around 40 percent of reproductive-aged women enrolled in Medicaid, and around 28 percent with private insurance have taken an opioid pain medication. This is based on information collated for the period 2008-2012. The women in the survey were aged between 15 and 44 years old, drawn from across the major georgraphic regions in the U.S.
The risk associated with taking such medications is with the risk of birth defects, like spina bifida which is a developmental congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube. Some vertebrae overlying the spinal cord are not fully formed and remain unfused and open. There can also be other problems associated with ophoid use, including preterm birth or low birth weight.
Commenting on the research, CDC Director Tom Frieden satted: “Taking opioid medications early in pregnancy can cause birth defects and serious problems for the infant and the mother.” He went on to add: “Many women of reproductive age are taking these medicines and may not know they are pregnant and therefore may be unknowingly exposing their unborn child. That’s why it’s critical for health care professionals to take a thorough health assessment before prescribing these medicines to women of reproductive age.”
Although the CDC has issued a warning, the Agency states that women should seek medical advice. Importantly, women who are pregnant should not stop or start taking any medications that they need without first talking with a healthcare provider.
More about opioid, Painkillers, Pregnancy, Women
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