Approved to treat: Severe pain
Drug category: Opioid analgesics
Year approved: 1943
Manufacturer: Abbott Laboratories
Women who use opioid painkillers such as hydrocodone during the first trimester of pregnancy face a doubled risk of giving birth to babies with serious and life threatening birth defects including:
- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) – doubled risk
- Ventricular Septal Defects
- Atrial Septal Defects
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Right Ventricular Outflow Tract Obstructions including Pulmonary Valve Stenosis
- Gastroschisis (herniation of the abdominal wall)
- Glaucoma (blocked eye fluid that increases pressure)
- Hydrocephaly (buildup of fluid inside the skull leading to brain swelling).
- Spina Bifida (neural tube defects)
Studies Find Link Between Opioid Medication Exposure and Birth Defects
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified hydrocodone as a pregnancy Category C medication. What this means is that there have been multiple studies to show a possible connection between maternal use of hydrocodone and birth defects.
According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, babies exposed to opioid painkillers such as hydrocodone before or early on in the pregnancy were twice as likely to have HLHS, a life-threatening congenital heart defect that causes the left side of the heart to be extremely underdeveloped. Women should be warned of these dangerous and potentially fatal side effects before becoming pregnant.
Unfortunately, the manufacturers of SSRI anti-depressants are not currently required to warn users of these increased risks and, as a terrible result, babies continue to be harmed.