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Personal Injury · Wrongful Death · Medical Malpractice

HIV Medication Causes a Risk to Newborns

When a pregnant woman is diagnosed with HIV, there is a significant risk of the disease passing from mother to newborn. In order to prevent the spread of this illness, expectant mothers are placed on a strict treatment regimen that may include prescribed medications. However, recent studies show that certain HIV drugs pose a risk of harm to the fetus. An article, published by HealthDay News, reviews the study’s conclusions and discusses the dilemma of administering HIV medications during pregnancy.

Researchers studied more than 1,300 children who were delivered between the years of 1994 and 2010. They were all born to mothers who were HIV-infected and prescribed antiretroviral medications throughout their pregnancies. According to researchers, the drug efavirenz resulted in a 0.7 increase in the likelihood of neurological defects among the studied children and zidovudine was associated with a 1.2 increase in the risk of heart defects among the newborns.

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 be seriously monitored and studied by the medical community. Researchers in the report also concluded that the increase in risk is not significant enough to stop prescribing antiretroviral medications to these mothers during pregnancy.

Some Motherly Advice

The NIH advises that expectant mothers should have an open discussion with their physicians about available treatments and medications. The agency gives the following advice and explanations:

  • Pregnant women who need anti-HIV medication solely to prevent transmission of the disease to their newborns may wait until after the first trimester to start taking it
  • Medications are most effective when a regimen is started early
  • Some form of anti-HIV medication is necessary by the second trimester of pregnancy

In regards to the best types of medication, the NIH suggests that doctors prescribe a specific combination of drugs that are specific to the individual patient’s needs. They also advise physicians to do the following when making prescription decisions:

  • Determine whether the prescribed medications are necessary for the maintenance of the mother’s health or baby’s well being ;
  • Consider how the expectant mother’s body will absorb the medications throughout the various stages of pregnancy; and
  • Examine potential birth defects and discuss them in detail with the pregnant mother.

Though the research study identified two specific medications that increase birth risks to newborns, there are reportedly several other medications that show no increase in health risks to newborns. When making decisions about medication regimens, physicians should weigh the various alternatives and make decisions that best protect the health of 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 or your child experienced a birth-related injury, contact the Miami legal team of Pita & Del Prado, PA for knowledgeable and skillful representation. Call the office today at (888) 670-8060 for a free consultation.

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