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Birth defects may be caused by medication error in painkillers

Health authorities are concerned about the high number of babies born with birth defects. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that many birth defects are caused by painkillers taken by women during their child-bearing years. According to an estimate made by the CDC, more than 33 percent of women will use medication for pain at some time between the ages of 15 and 44. In some cases in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, a physician who prescribed painkillers during pregnancy may be held responsible for a medication error that led to a birth defect.

Unfortunately, painkillers are often prescribed without a proper consultation or examination to establish whether a patient may be pregnant. In addition, patients are often not warned about the dangers of painkillers that are used during pregnancy. According to the CDC, opioid medications have been linked to birth defects. Although it is found in strong painkilling drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine, opioids may also be present in medications such as cough suppressants. It is not uncommon for women who are unaware of their pregnancy to expose their unborn children by taking painkilling medication.

Opioid medications have been associated with birth defects in the spinal cord, brain and heart. In some cases, babies are born without birth defects but suffer from neonatal abstinence syndrome. The baby will then go through a withdrawal process in order to adapt to living without opioid medication. The CDC says that many birth defects can be prevented if providers of health care would spend a little more time to assess the pregnancy status of women before writing a prescription.

Pennsylvania doctors are expected to provide a level of care that would include informing female patients of reproductive age of the dangers of using painkillers during pregnancy. When a mother believes that her child's birth defect was caused by a medication error made by a negligent physician, she may want to pursue the recovery of damages incurred. However, gathering the necessary evidence for a successful medical malpractice claim may require the assistance of an experienced attorney who focuses on medical malpractice claims.

Source: thetelegraph.com, "Painkillers and pregnancy a dangerous combination", Jan. 27, 2015

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