Increased risk of birth defects from opioid use
Although potential risks to a developing fetus remain largely unknown, doctors are prescribing opioid painkillers to pregnant women in startling numbers. A recent study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology shows a staggering 23 percent of 1.1 million pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid nationally filled an opioid, or narcotic, prescription in 2007—up from 18.5 percent in 2000. That is the largest usage rate of opioid prescriptions among pregnant women to date.
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