Valium, Xanax May Increase Risks Of Ectopic Pregnancy: Study

Side effects of benzodiazepines during pregnancy, including drugs like Xanax and Valium, may greatly increase a woman’s risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, according to the findings of a new study.

Researchers with Stanford University indicate that benzodiazepine drugs, which are often used to reduce anxiety or induce sleep, can increase the risk of the life threatening complication by up to 50%. The findings were published June 3, in the journal Human Reproduction.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus, often in the fallopian tube. This is a life-threatening condition, and the egg must be removed by medication or surgery to prevent serious harm or death.

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Researchers performed a cohort study involving more than 1.6 million pregnancies between November 2008 and September 2015, including data from U.S. commercial insurance claims across the nation.

The study used diagnosis and procedure codes to identify ectopic pregnancies and women given benzodiazepines in the 90 days before conception. Benzodiazepines are a class of drug with psychoactive properties and are often prescribed for anxiety, sleep problems, and seizures. Brand names include drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. They are commonly referred to as benzos.

The study controlled for other risks, including sexually transmitted infections, pelvic infection, use of an intrauterine device, smoking, and infertility treatments.

During the study, roughly 1% of women filled at least two benzodiazepine prescriptions totaling at least 10 days in the 90 days before conception. This included nearly 18,000 women.

According to the findings, women who took benzodiazepines, like Xanax, before conceiving a child had a 50% increased risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. In addition, using benzodiazepines, like Valium, increases the risk of miscarriage, adverse birth outcomes and adverse child development outcomes.

“This study found that women who have a benzodiazepine prescription before conception are at an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy,” wrote study authors. “This information can help women, and their healthcare providers make more fully informed decisions about benzodiazepine use in their reproductive years.”

Another study published last year also warned that using drugs like Xanax, Valium, or other benzodiazepines early in pregnancy can increase the risk of spontaneous abortion or miscarriage.

The researchers advised women who use these drugs to talk to their health care provider before becoming pregnant or after pregnancy is verified. They should discuss whether a change in treatment is possible or necessary. If they continue use the drugs or if there is no alternative, they should be monitored closely during pregnancy, the researchers indicated.

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