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Sedative linked to ectopic pregnancy, study claims

By Ella Pickover, PA Health Correspondent

Women who take a common sedative in the weeks before conceiving a child are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy, a study suggests.

Taking benzodiazepines in the 90 days prior to conception could increase a woman’s risk of ectopic pregnancy by 47%, the study found.

Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for anxiety, sleeping problems, alcohol withdrawal and seizures.

Ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes.

Researchers from the US and Canada examined data on more than 1.6 million pregnancies which occurred in the US between 2008 and 2015.

They found that among these pregnancies, 1% of women filled at least two benzodiazepine prescriptions totalling at least 10 days’ supply in the 90 days before conception.

Data was examined on a total of 1,691,366 pregnancies, of which 30,046 (1.78%) were ectopic and 17,990 (1.06%) were to women who had a benzodiazepine prescription before conception.

There were 80 excess ectopic pregnancies per 10,000 pregnancies among pregnancies exposed to benzodiazepines compared to pregnancies not exposed to benzodiazepine prescriptions before conception, they found.

After taking various factors into account, the authors of the paper, published in the journal Human Reproduction, concluded that women who took these drugs in the 90 days before conception had a 47% increased risk of ectopic pregnancy compared to women who did not.

The authors stressed that women who take the drugs and are of a reproductive age should be counselled about possible symptoms of ectopic pregnancy.

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