Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Sedative May Cause Birth Defects, Brain Damage

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Sedative May Cause Birth Defects, Brain Damage

Article excerpt

Sedative May Cause Birth Defects, Brain Damage

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN: There is further evidence that benzodiazepines -- a class of sedatives including Valium -- can cause birth defects such as facial abnormalities and mental retardation, according to a team of Swedish researchers. Liv Laegreid, M.D., from the department of pediatrics at Gothenburg University, and colleagues found similar facial deformities and central nervous system dysfunction in eight children whose mothers had been regular users of the benzodiazepines diazepam and oxazepam. The average birth weight was below average for Sweden. The children tended to have "a low nasal bridge ... [a] short, upturned nose; slightly malformed or low-set ears;[a receding jaw]; [a] flat upper lip; and full lips." Two had cleft palates and two had microcephaly [abnormally small brains].

One of the eight infants died at 11 weeks, possibly of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is believed to result from a respiratory malfunction. The researchers reported that "in six of the surviving children, various degrees of mental retardation were found [mainly as a result of breathing difficulty severe enough to require resuscitation], and only one child was of normal intelligence. …

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