Maternal opioid use raises congenital heart defect risk

September 1, 2011

Maternal use of opioid analgesics just prior to, or during the first trimester of, pregnancy increases the risk for certain congenital heart defects among offspring.

Maternal use of opioid analgesics just prior to, or during the first trimester of, pregnancy increases the risk for certain congenital heart defects among their offspring, according to the findings of a new study conducted by researchers at the CDC.

The National Birth Defects Prevention Study is an ongoing, population-based, case-control study. Two-and-a-half percent of case mothers and 2.0% of control mothers reported using opioids therapeutically during the month prior to conception or during the first
12 weeks of pregnancy.

Compared with the mothers reporting no opioid use, those who used opioids were 2.7 times more likely (95% CI, 1.1-6.3) to have a baby with conoventricular septal defects; twice as likely (95% CI, 1.2-3.6) to have a baby with atrioventricular septal defects; 2.4 times as likely (95% CI, 1.4-4.1) to have a baby with hypoplastic left heart syndrome; twice as likely (95% CI, 1.3-3.2) to have a baby with spina bifida; and 1.8 times as likely (95% CI, 1.1-2.9) to have a baby with gastroschisis.

Broussard CS, Rasmussen SA, Reefhuis J, et al. Maternal treatment with opioid analgesics and risk for birth defects. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2011;204(4):314.e1-314.e11.