Taking Zohydro ER While Pregnant: What You Need to Know

Is Zohydro ER Safe to Take While Pregnant?

Zohydro ER is a prescription, brand-name version of the opioid pain reliever hydrocodone. Zohydro ER is an extended-release pain drug, also called a narcotic. Zohdyro is indicated to manage severe pain that requires ongoing, around-the-clock opioid treatment. Zohydro should only be prescribed to a patient if other treatment options wouldn’t work or be tolerated for some reason. Hydrocodone is also sold in brand-name medications including Norco and Vicodin. Hydrocodone is a semisynthetic opioid, and it is included not only in pain medications but it’s often included in cough suppressing medications. There are immediate-release variations of hydrocodone as well as controlled-release versions. Zohydro ER falls into the controlled-release category. Side effects of Zohydro ER are similar to other opioids. Common side effect can include things like drowsiness, dizziness and nausea.

More severe concerns associated with the use of Zohydro ER can include addiction and dependence. Zohydro ER combats pain by activating opioid receptors. It can cause feelings of euphoria in some patients, which is part of what triggers addiction. Dependence is a separate issue from addiction. With dependence, a person’s body is physically dependent on the presence of opioids after using them for a period of time. If someone is dependent on Zohydro and tries to stop using it suddenly, they may have symptoms of withdrawal. Overdose and respiratory depression are risks of using opioids like Zohydro as well. When Zohydro binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system, it slows breathing. If someone takes a dose of Zohydro that’s too large, their breathing might slow to a dangerous or deadly level.

If a woman is wondering if Zohydro ER is safe to take while pregnant, the answer is that it probably isn’t unless a health care professional says otherwise. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies the active ingredient, hydrocodone, as a pregnancy category C drug. Pregnancy categories, as defined by the FDA, are based on available research indicating the potential risks drugs can have when a fetus is exposed to them. The categories start with A. Category A pregnancy drugs are considered safest and haven’t demonstrated harm to a fetus in animal or human studies. Category B drugs are also considered relatively safe. Category B drugs haven’t shown harm to a fetus in animal studies, but human studies may be limited. Category C drugs are what other opioids and most substances fall into. Category C drugs may have demonstrated harmful effects to a fetus in animal studies. Category C drugs have limited or no human research available, however. There are category D drugs as well, which have shown harmful effects on a fetus and should only be used if the benefits significantly outweigh risks. Category X drugs shouldn’t be used during pregnancy.

Taking Zohydro ER While Pregnant: What You Need to Know

Since Zohydro ER is classified as a category C pregnancy drug, a doctor will look at the possible risks of its use during pregnancy, compared to benefits. Only a doctor should tell a pregnant woman whether or not it’s safe to use Zohydro ER. The CDC does outline certain birth defects that may be linked to fetal exposure to Zohydro ER and other opioids. For example, the CDC names congenital heart defects as a possible birth defect associated with opioid use during pregnancy. Spina bifida and neural tube defects may be more likely with fetal exposure to opioids. Other birth defects possibly linked to opioid use during pregnancy include hydrocephaly and gastroschisis.

As well as the possibility of birth defects, the use of opioids during pregnancy can cause the baby to become dependent on them. Just as adults who take opioids can become physically dependent, so can a baby in the womb. If a baby is born addicted to Zohydro ER and dependent on it, they will likely go through neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) after they’re born. Symptoms of NAS linked to opioids can be mild or severe. These symptoms can include fussiness and irritability, problems sleeping, and fever or sweating. If a baby is born dependent on Zohydro ER, it may also have problems with sleeping and eating, which can lead to failure to thrive. If a baby is born with NAS, NICU treatment will likely be required until symptoms subside.

If you’re pregnant and you have pain, you should speak to your doctor about safer alternatives to taking Zohydro ER while pregnant. Your doctor may have options with fewer risks if they’re used during pregnancy. If you’re recreationally using Zohydro ER, it’s important not to stop suddenly even if you become pregnant. Stopping opioids cold turkey can cause withdrawal. Withdrawal during pregnancy can cause serious complications. Instead, speak with your healthcare provider about the safest way to stop using opioids during pregnancy. As a pregnant woman who recreationally uses opioids, you may find benefits in medical detox and an addiction treatment program.

We’re here now if you’d like to talk about addiction, detox and treatment, including program options available during pregnancy.

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