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Growing List of Medications Pose Danger to Expectant Mothers

The Lancione Law Firm

It is easy for mothers-to-be to become overwhelmed with advice about what they should do to assure the health and safety of their unborn children. Expecting mothers must make sure they are eating right, getting the proper amount of exercise and following their doctor’s advice.

Unfortunately, as a recent spate of warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demonstrate, mothers-to-be must also watch carefully which prescription drugs they are taking to assure the safety of their unborn children.

The Dangers of Topamax

Just a few weeks ago, the FDA reiterated warnings that pregnant women who take topiramate (sold under the brand name Topamax) – an anticonvulsant medication used to treat seizure disorders including epilepsy and migraine headaches – have an increased risk of giving birth to children with cleft lips or cleft palates. This new warning comes after review of information compiled by the North American Antiepileptic Drug (NAAED) Pregnancy Registry, which confirmed a higher incidence of these sorts of birth defects among children who were exposed to topiramate during the first trimester of pregnancy.

According to the NAAED, women who are currently taking Topamax should seek advice from their doctors and use birth control to assure that they do not become pregnant. Pregnant women who currently use Topamax are advised to continue taking the drug until they receive further advice from their physicians.

The FDA has classified topiramate as a Pregnancy Category D Drug, which means that there is evidence of human fetal risk, but the potential benefits from the use of the drug by pregnant women may make use of the drug acceptable despite the risks.

Dangers Continue to Mount

The recent announcements regarding the dangers posed by Topamax are just the latest in a series of announcements about drugs that have been found to cause harm to mothers-to-be and their babies.

Earlier this year, the FDA announced that newborns whose mothers had taken antipsychotic drugs like Haldol, Zyprexa, Seroquel and Abilify during pregnancy may experience symptoms of withdrawal like agitation and difficulty breathing and eating for hours or days after birth.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that taking opioid pain relievers like Vicodin, OxyContin and Tylenol with codeine just before or early on in pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects including heart defects and glaucoma.

The Risk

What may come as a surprise to many is that information about the dangers prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals may cause to unborn children is often lacking. The problem is, of course, that it is considered unethical to involve pregnant women in the kinds of clinical trials required by the FDA before a drug is considered safe for use.

Despite this lack of data, most pregnant women take prescription drugs during pregnancy. According to one study, 64 percent of pregnant women take at least one prescription medication, but most take between three and five.

How Can Mothers-to-Be Keep Themselves and Their Children Safe?

It is widely agreed that women should not go nine months without treating conditions such as asthma, epilepsy, depression and other serious health conditions. Going that long without treatment not only puts the health of the mother at risk, but also her unborn child.

Experts recommend that pregnant women meet often with their physicians and discuss treatment options for chronic conditions and other health problems. Although it can, of course, be difficult to determine which drugs are safe, some changes to drug labeling rules may make it easier for women to make informed decisions about their care during pregnancy. The FDA is currently working to finalize a rule requiring each drug label to list the known pregnancy risks of the drug, as well as information for doctors. In addition, the FDA is currently working with drug makers on rules for safely including pregnant women in clinical trials, a change that would lead to more information about how drugs work during pregnancy.

Legal Options

No matter what, the unfortunate truth is that mothers do not discover that the drug they took during pregnancy is dangerous to their unborn child. Indeed, drugs can do the most damage to a fetus during the first trimester, a time when many women do not even know they are pregnant.

No matter the situation, birth injuries can be devastating both for the parents and the child. Depending on the nature and severity of your child’s injury, he may require ongoing medical care, therapy, or even housing accommodation.

An Attorney Can Help

If your child’s injury was caused by the negligence of your physician or a pharmaceutical company, they may be liable for expenses such as medical bills, lost future earnings, pain and suffering, and more.

If your child has been injured, contact an experienced birth injury attorney. A lawyer knowledgeable about birth injuries can assess your case and help you get the compensation you and your child deserve. For more information, contact an attorney today.


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