Using Benzodiazepines While Pregnant Linked to Increased Risk of Miscarriage

A new study, released today, has found that there’s an association between any benzodiazepine use — this group of drugs includes Xanax, Valium, Ativan and more — during early pregnancy and an increased risk of miscarriage.

The findings were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers looked at 442,066 pregnancies listed in the Quebec Pregnancy Cohort, which includes all pregnancies covered by the Quebec Prescription Drug Insurance Plan from January 1, 1998, through December 31, 2015. From the registry, 27,149 pregnancies (6.1%) resulted in spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). Among those pregnancies that resulted in miscarriage, 375 (1.4%) were among women exposed to benzodiazepines in early pregnancy, as compared to a control group of only 788 (.6%) of the 134,305 matched control pregnancies. Spontaneous abortions were found to occur with early pregnancy incident exposure to both short-acting (Halcion) and long-acting (Valium) benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepines are frequently prescribed to women during pregnancy to treat anxiety, insomnia and mood disorders. The study’s researchers note that benzodiazepines cross the placental barrier and accumulate in the fetal circulation at levels up to three times higher than the maternal serum levels. Given the study’s findings, researchers think it’s best that clinicians carefully evaluate the risk vs. benefit ratio of prescribing these drugs to patients during early pregnancy since nonpharmacological treatments are available to help treat these conditions.

Struggling with benzodiazepine withdrawal or know somebody who is? Check out 10 Tips to Help Patients Going Through Benzodiazepine Withdrawal.


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