Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2. Statins and Pregnancy

You may not be old enough to remember the disaster incurred by the widespread practice in Europe in the 1950's of treating depression with the then newly discovered drug Thalidomide. When you take a Lipitor tablet you are taking a drug that, like Thalidomide, is labeled "Class X" with respect to its potential harm to the fetus, and is even worse than Thalidomide in terms of the kind of damage it can do to your unborn child. A woman who is in the childbearing age group should never be advised to take a statin drug. While there are warnings associated with the ads and on the labels claiming that you should "stop taking Lipitor" should you become pregnant, the drug companies seem intent on hushing up the fact that these drugs are toxic to the developing fetus.

Clearly it would be unethical to conduct a controlled experiment that intentionally exposes a pregnant woman to statins, and therefore such controlled studies have not been done. However, in one of the few available retrospective studies of statins and pregnancy, researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that statin use during the first trimester of pregnancy led to severe central nervous system defects as well as limb deformities. Twenty out of 52 women who had been exposed to statins during the first trimester had babies with severe deformities, which is nearly a 40% rate of severe birth

"Of the 20 babies born with malformations, five had severe central nervous system defects, and five had malformed limbs. One baby had both, according to Muenke. There were also two cases of a very rare birth defect called holoprosencephaly, which occurs when the brain fails to divide properly." (Statins and Birth Defects) .

Doctors in Liverpool have even had the audacity to propose that statins be prescribed to pregnant women, an idea that these authors find wildly disturbing: (Statins during Pregnancy) . There seems to be a general lack of awareness, even among doctors, of the degree of harm these drugs can inflict on the developing fetus.

Great Britain now has the dubious distinction of being the only country where you can buy statin drugs over the counter (NonPrescription Statins) . This means that any naive young woman thinking she can self-treat high cholesterol may end up with a severely malformed baby, and chances are she won't even realize it's due to the drug.

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