As more and more American women take prescription painkillers, health officials are raising the alarm about the risk of birth defects. Powerful opioid drugs like hydrocodone, codeine and oxycodone are commonly prescribed for moderate to severe pain and they can be addictive. The drugs have also been linked to serious birth defects, including congenital heart defects; neural tube defects such as spina bifida; and gastroschisis, when a baby is born with the intestines erupting from their abdomen. Newborns can also suffer from withdrawal symptoms if their mothers took the drugs during pregnancy.
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