Prescription Narcotic Painkillers commonly used in Pregnancy

Prescription Narcotic Painkillers commonly used in Pregnancy

A new study has revealed that use of prescription narcotic painkillers is common in pregnancy, which increases the odds of a baby to be born with low weight and premature. Also, the baby could experience painful drug withdrawal.

Drugs such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (Oxycontin), codeine and morphine come under the category of these prescription painkillers, also called opioids. The study helped researchers determine that nearly 30% of the Tennessee expectant mothers were using at least one of these drugs while pregnant. The associated risks were further increased if they also smoked or took antidepressants.

Dr. Stephen Patrick, a neonatologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said it was really surprising for him to come across such a high number of women using prescribed opioid pain relievers in pregnancy.

"I was also surprised by how commonly women smoked in pregnancy, and how much that increased the risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome among those who also used opioid pain relievers in pregnancy", said Patrick.

Newborns exposed to addictive drugs in the womb are highly likely to suffer from neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Experts have raised concerns over rise in rate of prescription painkiller abuse in the United States in recent years and their dangerous effects on newborns.