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HIV Medications and Birth Defects in Newborns

A recent study found that HIV drugs, given to women during pregnancy, pose a slightly higher risk of harm to the unborn baby. An article, published by HealthDay News, discusses the outcome of the study and weighs the risk of prescribing HIV drugs prenatally. Researchers studied more than 1,300 French children born between 1994 and 2010. All of them were born to mothers who were HIV infected and prescribed antiretroviral medications during their pregnancies. According to researchers, the drug zidovudine was associated with a 1.2 increase in the risk of heart defects among the newborns. Additionally, the drug efavirenz reportedly resulted in a 0.7 increase in the likelihood of neurological defects among the studied children.

According to the report, researchers concluded that the increase in risk is minor compared to the value of prescribing antiretroviral medications to these mothers during pregnancy. Lynne Mofenson of the National Institute of Health (NIH) was included in the article. She reportedly asserted that current prescription habits for HIV infected mothers should not be altered, because of these findings. However, she did warn that usage of these drugs should undergo continuous scrutiny.

National Institute of Health Advice to Mothers

The NIH advises pregnancy mothers with HIV to discuss various medication options with their physicians. Their website explicitly states that “some HIV/AIDS medicines may harm your baby.” It also explains that HIV infected mothers may need medications for their own health or solely to prevent the transmission of the disease to the fetus. The NIH gives the following guidelines and explanations for HIV infected mothers:

***Mothers needing anti-HIV medication for their own health can start taking prescriptions either prior to pregnancy or upon becoming pregnant.
***Mothers needing anti-HIV medication solely to prevent transmission may wait until after the first trimester to start taking the medications ***The earlier a medication regimen is started, the more effective it is in reducing the risk of transmission
***All HIV-infected pregnant women should take some form of anti-HIV medication by the second trimester of pregnancy
In regards to the best types of medication, the NIH suggests a combination that is specific to individual circumstances and needs. They also advise physicians to do the following when making prescription decisions:

***Determine whether medications are needed for the mother’s health or baby’s health
***Consider changes in the way that the patient’s body will absorb medication due to pregnancy ***Examine and discuss the potential for birth defects and physical harm to the newborn baby
Though the research study identified two antiretroviral medications that increase the risk of birth defects, the report stated that several other medications showed no increase in the risk to newborns. When making decisions about medication regimens, physicians should weigh the various alternatives and make decisions that best protect the mother and the child. If a doctor fails to meet this duty and an injury ensues, there may be a case for medical malpractice liability.

If you were prescribed an anti-HIV medication during pregnancy and your child was born with a birth defect, a birth injury attorneys with knowledge and skill to guide you through the legal merits of your individual situation.

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