A recent study led by a team at the Centers for Disease Control found that women who use some opioid pain killers early in their pregnancies may be putting their unborn babies at risk for serious birth defects including heart and spinal deformities.
This news, while welcomed by the chronic pain community, will not
likely be popular. Nevertheless, I think it's vital to spread to our
groups, because until now physicians have told us that these drugs have
little chance of causing problems - much less than other pain
medications - in unborn babies.
As a Migraineur, I used some of these drugs while pregnant. Thank
goodness my Migraine issues weren't as severe as they are now, and I
didn't have to use them early in my pregnancy when the most damage seems
to occur. Instead, I was one of those unlucky women whose Migraines
were triggered later on in the pregnancy, when they could suddenly turn
on me mercilessly. In those instances (and when I had kidney stones)
during pregnancy, my doctors felt that giving me the medication was the
safest thing for a pregnancy that was already at risk.
There is another side of the story that makes this a hot topic
today... the fact that the war on the illicit use of prescription drugs -
painkillers in particular - has led to grave difficulty for honest
chronic pain patients to have their pain issues appropriately treated.
We are the collateral damage in this war. Now this study gives the
powers that be more ammunition and yet another reason to consider
pulling helpful drugs off the market (Darvocet and Darvon were the
latest casualties in this war) leaving many in the epidemic of chronic
pain patients little to nowhere to go.
As leaders in the chronic pain community, we can help drive this problem of collateral damage - in either direction:
On one hand, by not using and protecting our medications
appropriately, we give our doctors reason to think twice before giving a
On the other hand, if we are the driving forces behind warning
pregnant women and those of childbearing age, perhaps we can create
awareness among physicians and the powers that be that this is indeed
enough of a concern for our community that we should be not only heard
but respected. They need to understand that we are on their side!
We need to create awareness not only of under-treated pain, but also
of this community's resourcefulness and dedication to eliminating the
illicit and improper use of these drugs that our government entities are
so concerned with. We need to be sure that we are not only advocating
for the appropriate options for these drugs, but also the appropriate
use by our community members.