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Tranquilliser safety

Bella Magazine
February 1998

Women shouldn't take tranquillisers during pregnancy as they could be linked to birth defects.

Since the 1980s, doctors have been told by the Government to avoid prescribing tranquillisers known as benzodiazepines to pregnant women. They cause foetal distress before birth and "floppy baby syndrome," where the child is born sedated. Babies have been born with small heads and cleft palates, learning disabilities, dyslexia and attention deficit syndrome.

Despite the risks, some GPs do still prescribe benzodiazepines for pregnant women. It's estimated that three or four out of every 100 babies born each year in the UK are addicted to the drug.

"We are getting more and more evidence that points to benzos causing problems at birth and much later as children grow older," says Susan Bibby of the pressure group, Benzact, which campaigns on behalf of victims.

Women shouldn't stop taking tranquillisers suddenly, though, as this can be dangerous. They should see a doctor first.

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