This infographic is titled “Hard Pill to Swallow,” and when you look at the data it presents, it really is. It’s about prescription drugs and birth defects. It contains historical information on all the things people have taken that they thought would help them, and only ended up hurting their child, as well as historical information on the things the government has tried to do to prevent birth defects caused by prescription drugs.

This one is a little harder to break down by category, so we’ll just give you the highlights and you can examine the infographic at will.

The Timeline

In 1938, President Roosevelt signed the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which enforced a pre-market review of the safety of any new drug.  We’re told, all the way at the end of the infographic, that during the 30’s some lemon-lime soft drinks had lithium in them, and they were marked as hangover cures.  Unfortunately, we learn in another sidebar of the infographic that lithium is known to cause birth defects.  So is alcohol, for that matter.  One of the factoids presented back at the top of the infographic tells us that, despite federal regulatory efforts, drug companies still found a way to introduce harmful products.

In the 1940’s, a drug started being prescribed for pregnant women.  It’s name was Diethylstilbestorl and it was in use for over thirty years.  The FDA ended up withdrawing the drug because it was found to cause tumors in pregnant women.  In the 1951 a new drug called Tirmethadione was developed as an anti-convulsant.  It turned out to cause facial deformities and a fetal death rate of a whopping 87%.

In the 50’s and 60’s, a drug called Thalidomide was used almost worldwide.  It caused birth defects in the form of physical deformities in 10,000 children in 46 countries.  The drug was not FDA approved, yet the drugs were distributed because of clinical testing programs.

In 1962 it was discovered that an active ingredient in Depakote, used for seizures and bipolar disorder, was linked to cases of autism and spina bifida.

And the list goes on an on through the decades to modern day.  See the image for more information about druges that have caused birth defects.  In 2011, the FDA discovered that the drug Topamax, a migraine-preventative, caused an increased risk of cleft lip and cleft palate.

More Information

We’re informed that the FDA classifies a drug that can cause fetal injury as a Category X drug.  We’re also told that 2 out of 3 women take prescription meds when they are pregnant.  How many, I wonder, are Category X drugs?  The top cause of infant deaths are birth defects.  I wonder how many of those birth defects are caused by prescription medications?  We’re told that 40% of women of child-bearing age that use Category X drugs and contraceptives don’t take their contraceptive regularly, thus risking pregnancy that could result in a birth defect.

This is obviously still a big problem, one that should be taken seriously.

Information:  B

The questions I asked in the body of the review would be nice to know, and there is a typo in the mix (it’s up to you to find it if you care), but there is a lot of information given and it’s very valuable, even though it is very scary.

Design:  B+

The infographic is easy to read and the timeline is well-designed, though the information to the left of the timeline seems to have no rhyme nor reason.  It could have been arranged more effectively.

Source:  Neural tube defects