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OxyContin and Pregnancy

Animal studies on OxyContin (oxycodone ER) indicate that the medication is unlikely to cause birth defects. However, using narcotics late in pregnancy can cause narcotic withdrawal in the infant after delivery. If pregnancy occurs while you are taking OxyContin, your healthcare provider will weigh the benefits and risks before making a recommendation for your particular situation.

Is OxyContin Safe During Pregnancy?

OxyContin® (oxycodone ER) is a prescription narcotic pain medication. Animal studies indicate that OxyContin is unlikely to cause birth defects. However, it is possible that taking this drug during pregnancy could cause other problems, such as withdrawal symptoms in the newborn infant.

Pregnancy Category B

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a pregnancy category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category B is given to medicines that have not been adequately studied in pregnant humans but do not appear to cause harm to the fetus in animal studies. Medications that have been shown to be safe for use in pregnancy in humans (but have caused problems in laboratory animals) are also given a Category B rating.
When given to pregnant animals, oxycodone (the active ingredient in OxyContin) did not seem to increase the risk of birth defects or other problems. Very limited human studies also suggest that OxyContin does not seem to cause birth defects in humans. However, OxyContin is a narcotic, and using this drug during the end of a pregnancy may cause narcotic withdrawal in the infant after delivery. Such withdrawal symptoms may include:
  • Increased stools
  • Irritability and excessive crying
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Fast breathing
  • Shakiness (tremors)
  • Sneezing
  • Yawning
  • Vomiting
  • Fever.
OxyContin is not recommended for pain control during labor or delivery, as it may cause breathing problems in the newborn.
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