Risk of birth defects from drugs is not always conveyed to women

Eric Saiontz

By Eric Saiontz
Posted September 30, 2007


Many drugs on the market today should not be taken by women who are or may become pregnant.  The side effect of these medicines on an unborn baby can be devastating, and yet research shows that many women taking these drugs are unaware of the danger.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that roughly 1 out of every 6 women who are of childbearing age are receiving prescriptions for medicines that could cause harm to their child if they become pregnant.  Many of these women have no idea of the possible side effects, since the study found that only about half of the women taking drugs linked to birth defects are warned about the consequences of becoming pregnant.

Medicines that may cause birth defects include certain antibiotics, acne medications, cholesterol reducers, anti-seizure drugs, sleep aids and blood thinners.  While most of the prescriptions contain warnings about the possibility of birth defects, the prescribing physician should still take steps to ensure that their patient is aware of the risk of problems.

Failure to provide information about possible birth defects could endanger the lives of unborn babies.  It is the responsibility of pharmaceutical companies to make certain that adequate information is provided about the risks of dangerous side effects and it is the duty of doctors to make sure that their patients are aware of problems which could be associated with taking a medication. 

Birth defects caused by drugs can be prevented if the woman taking the drug takes steps to ensure that she does not become pregnant.   Failure to educate the patient about the risks associated with becoming pregnant while taking the drugs could be the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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