The popular anti-anxiety drug could be putting more than 1 million pregnant women at risk of miscarriage, a new study suggests.
Researchers from Taiwan studied more than 3 million pregnancies among 2 million women and found 4.4 percent – or 136,130 – resulted in miscarriage.
They analyzed the medical histories of all the women studied, and found those prescribed a class of drugs called benzodiazepines — used to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia — were, on average, 70 percent more likely to shed compared to non-drinkers. the pills.
Benzodiazepines, also called benzos, are a group of sedative drugs. The most popular drugs include Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin.
The researchers also noted that the higher risk stood even when other co-founding factors, such as the woman’s age and health, were taken into account.
Benzodiazepines, also called benzos, are a group of drugs used to treat insomnia, seizures and anxiety disorders. The most popular drugs include Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin
The scientists also said that their findings highlight the need for health care professionals to ‘carefully balance the risk-benefit ratio when considering the use of benzodiazepines to treat mental and sleep disorders in during pregnancy.’
It is estimated that about 1.7 percent of pregnant women (about 1.2 million) are prescribed these drugs in the first trimester of their pregnancy – a number that has increased in recent years.
The studying,published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry,looked at miscarriages in women exposed to benzos just before pregnancy, only during pregnancy and at the same time period.
Long-acting benzos—drugs that are processed more slowly in the body, like Valium, showed a 67 percent higher risk of miscarriage, while short-acting benzos, like Versed showed a a 66 percent increased risk.
Alprazolam, the generic version of Xanax, showed the lowest risk association, at 39 percent.
When used during pregnancy, benzos can cross the barrier between the mother and the placenta, exposing a fetus to the drugs.
The researchers hypothesized that because of the role that benzodiazepines play in the development and growth of cells, it is plausible that benzodiazepine exposure may cause abnormalities in fetal development, which ultimately may lead to miscarriage.
While the study shows a link between benzos and miscarriages, the researchers could not determine a direct link.
The investigators considered the underlying conditions that may have triggered the miscarriage, but did not consider the effect of a combination of factors – such as smoking and anxiety, for example.
The findings are notable given the high number of pregnant women thought to be taking the drug.
A 2020 study found that the international prevalence of benzos during pregnancy was 1.9 percent.
Meanwhile, another 2019 study found that two percent of pregnant women received at least one benzodiazepine during pregnancy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed fewer than one in 100 women took benzodiazepine or antipsychotic drugs during pregnancy.
The CDC says researchers aren’t sure whether birth defects or pregnancy complications are related to the drugs themselves or to the underlying mental conditions these drugs are used to treat.
And women who take these types of drugs are more likely to have other factors that can lead to a higher chance of birth defects and pregnancy complications.
Studies on the effect of benzos on pregnancy and fetuses have returned mixed results.
A 2022 study of more than 1.5 million children found benzodiazepine exposure during pregnancy was not associated with an increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in children.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a group of OB-GYN doctors who provide medical recommendations for health care professionals and patients, stated that studies show that most antidepressants, which may include benzos, do not increase the risk of birth defects.
However, a 2020 study by Stanford University researchers found that women who took benzos in the week before becoming pregnant had a 50 percent higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy – a pregnancy that grows outside the uterus , which is fatal to the fetus and mother.
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