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Many women in the United States who are in their childbearing years are prescribed opioid pain relievers, powerful medications that can cause birth defects, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed prescriptions for opioid pain medications among U.S. women ages 15 to 44 between 2008 and 2012. They found that each year, about a quarter of women (27.7 percent) who had private insurance, and nearly 40 percent of women on Medicaid, filed a prescription for an opioid pain medicine, according to the study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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