Decongestant sprays linked to rare birth defects

Conclusion This study suggests a possible link between phenylephrine and phenylpropanolamine – found in decongestant medicines – and an increased risk of three specific birth defects (endocardial cushion defect, ear defects, pyloric stenosis). Numerous other medications were tested but were not found to be associated with birth defects. However, the study performed many statistical comparisons looking for links with many different birth defects. These three defects were the ones where significant links were found, but it is possible that some of the results may be due to chance alone. The authors clearly recognised the limitations of their study, correctly reporting how their “hypothesis generating analysis involving multiple comparisons” found only a “small number of associations with oral and intranasal decongestants” and birth defects. This tells us the study was not looking to prove anything – and it does not. It was instead looking to uncover possible links that could be tested more rigorously in other research. To this end it achieved its aims. The authors also usefully pointed out that “the associations identified involved defects that generally affect less than 1 per 1,000 infants. Some of them may require surgery, but not all are life-threatening.” So even though some of the relative risk increases sound large (such as eight times the risk) the chance of having a baby with a birth defect remained low in both group...
Source: NHS News Feed - Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Medication Pregnancy/child Cancer Source Type: news

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