Opioids are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in America today. While opioids can greatly help reduce the amount of pain a patient is suffering from, studies have shown these drugs can have devastating effects on unborn children. Opioid manufacturers did not properly warn patients that taking an opioid between one month before getting pregnant and three months after becoming pregnant could cause permanent birth defects.
Study Links Opioids To Birth Defects
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2011 reporting the use of opioids caused a significant increase in birth defects. In the study, researchers looked at 24,000 pregnant women from ten different states who were prescribed an opioid anywhere from a month before conceiving through the end of their first trimester. Researchers identified the rates of birth defects were much higher for these women than for the general population.
Types of Opioid Birth Defects
Prescription painkillers or opioids are associated with a wide range of birth defects. Some of the most common types of birth defects from opioids include:
- Serious congenital heart defects
- Spina bifida
- Hydrocephaly or the build up of fluid in the brain
- Gastroschisis or a defect in the abdominal wall
Serious congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect and can often prove fatal for newborns and infants. Opioids have been associated with numerous congenital heart defects, including ventricular septal defects (holes in the heart), Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (underdevelopment of the left side of the heart), tetralogy of fallot (a combination of defects that causes oxygen-poor blood to flow out of the heart and into the rest of the body), and pulmonary valve stenosis (an obstruction of blood flow out of the right ventricle.
The Dangers of Birth Defects
Birth defects are one of the leading causes of infant mortality, making up nearly 20% of all infant deaths every year. Even infants who survive with their defects often require a lifetime of medical care and may never fully be able to enjoy life like others. Because of this, patients need to know the effects prescription medications will have on their unborn children to prevent birth defects. Unfortunately, because opioids can cause birth defects when taken as early as one month before pregnancy, some women unknowingly put their unborn children at risk before they even become pregnant.
Patients Deserve To Know The Risks
Opioid manufacturers did not properly warn patients of the birth defects risks associated with their drugs. When patients don’t know the full risks associated with a medication, they cannot make informed decisions about their care, which puts them and their unborn children at risk. Because of their negligence, drug manufacturers have caused thousands of injuries and they need to be held accountable for their actions.
Fighting For Opioid Birth Defect Victims
At Watts Guerra LLP, our experienced attorneys have litigated pharmaceutical cases around the country and around the world. We don’t let big corporations take advantage of consumers. Our lawyers are helping opioid birth defect victims hold pharmaceutical companies accountable by pursuing compensation on their behalf. If you have questions about your opioid birth defect claim, don’t wait to contact us for a free consultation.