Taking benzodiazepines within 90 days before conception raises the risk of a life-threatening condition known as ectopic pregnancy by 47%, according to an investigation led by Stanford postdoctoral researcher Elizabeth Wall-Wieler, PhD.

The study was published this month in Human Reproduction.

One reason Wall-Wieler focused the study on benzodiazepines is that the drugs are already known to heighten the risk of some other pregnancy problems, including miscarriage and preterm birth.Another was that the drugs are widely used — commonly prescribed for sleep problems, anxiety, seizures and muscle spasms.

To investigate the impact of these drugs on ectopic pregnancy, Wall-Wieler and her collaborators used an insurance database of 1,691,366 pregnancies to track prescriptions for benzodiazepines in the 90 days before conception. Nearly 18,000 of the women had used the drugs; and based on the team’s analysis, these women were 47% more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy than those who did not have a prescription for benzodiazepines.

Get the full story at scopeblog.stanford.edu.