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Drugs & Devices > ACE Inhibitors

ACE Inhibitors, drugs that are used to treat high blood pressure, have been linked to birth defects. ACE Inhibitors already carry black box warning against taking them in the later stages of pregnancy, but now are suspected of causing birth defects in the first trimester as well, according to a new study in the [New England Journal of Medicine].

Babies whose mothers took ACE inhibitors in their first trimester were 2.7 times more likely to have serious birth defects of the heart and brain than those who weren't exposed to blood pressure drugs.

According to IMS Health, approximately 150 million prescriptions for ACE inhibitors were filled in the US with sales topping $3.8 billion. The biggest sellers are Lotrel, made by Novartis, Altace, manufactured by Aventis Pharmaceuticals, and Merck’s Lisinopril (also known as Zestril and Prinivil).

Angiotensin-converting-enzyme (or ACE) inhibitors are a class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure and work by relaxing blood vessels and increasing blood flow. ACE inhibitors are often prescribed to people with diabetes.

Although it is recognized that ACE inhibitors during the second and third trimesters can lead to birth defects, it was previously believed that use of the drugs during the first three months of pregnancy was safe. The study advises that the drugs should be avoided by women of childbearing age. Currently, the inhibitors carry a black box warning for women to avoid the drug when they become pregnant. The FDA says that more research is required before it changes the existing warnings.

This study demonstrates the risks of taking known and unknown drugs before and during pregnancy. Women who are considering getting pregnant should talk to their doctor before taking any medications.

If your child has been damaged as a result of being exposed to ACE inhibitors, you should seek help and compensation through an ACE Inhibitor lawyer, who will review your case at no cost.

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