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Pregabalin (Lyrica) Linked to Increase in Birth Defects

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Santa Clara, CA: Data collected by the Swiss Teratogen Information Service, a facility that collects reports of potential harmful effects of drugs, and a subsequent study on the data published in the journal Neurology, reveals that the pain medication pregabalin (Lyrica) may be linked to birth defects.

Pregabalin is approved in the US to treat nerve pain, including fibromyalgia and pain caused by shingles and diabetes, as well as for seizures. Some physicians are also prescribing the drug off-label for generalized anxiety disorder.

The researchers found that women who took pregabalin during pregnancy had a higher risk of having babies with birth defects. The study shows a three times greater risk for birth defects in women who took pregabalin during their first trimester of pregnancy.

These results add to the existing evidence from animal studies that also show a higher rate of skeletal and neural tube defects among those exposed to pregabalin, raising concern about the risk for pregnant women.

The label for pregabalin states the drug it is not recommended for pregnant women or women who are hoping to become pregnant. However, the study' senior author, Dr. Thierry Buclin, notes that 77% of the women were taking pregabalin before they learned they were pregnant.

"We checked and rechecked all of the outcomes,"says Buclin. "We were a bit surprised by the positive finding of higher birth defects. It' definitely concerning."(TIME)

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