Valium During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on July 3, 2012

Can Pregnant Women Take Diazepam?

Valium (diazepam) is contraindicated for pregnant women and is generally considered unsafe for use during pregnancy. Animal studies show that Valium can lead to birth defects.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies this medication as Pregnancy Category D medication which means there is clear evidence of risk to unborn child. Medications under Pregnancy Category D may still be prescribed to pregnant women only if the healthcare provider believes that the benefits outweigh the potential risks to the fetus.

Animal and human studies have shown that benzodiazepine drugs like Valium may increase the risk of congenital malformation and other developmental abnormalities. These studies also suggest that Valium can lead to other problems, particularly withdrawal symptoms. In some reports, infants born to mother who have taken Valium late in pregnancy has shown withdrawal symptoms that include poor muscle tension, abnormally low body temperature, feeding problems, and respiratory difficulties. However, there are also some studies that suggest that the risk may be too low to cause problems.

Since the need for Valium during pregnancy is actually very rare, many healthcare providers recommend that pregnant women should avoid taking it altogether.

If you have been prescribed with or are taking Valium and pregnancy occurs, be sure to inform your healthcare provider. The manufacturer recommends that the benefits and risks of taking this medication during pregnancy be considered before making any recommendation.

Can Breastfeeding Women Take Valium?

Valium is excreted into the breast milk and can cause serious problems on the nursing infant. If you are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, be sure to consult your healthcare provider about Valium use.

Previous studies have shown that Valium passes through the human breast milk. Since this medication can lead to serious side effects, women who are breastfeeding are usually advised either to stop breastfeeding or to stop taking this medication.  Exposure to Valium via the breast milk can cause side effects on the infant, such as drowsiness, sedation, weight loss, feeding problems, and lethargy. If your physician recommend taking Valium while breastfeeding, be sure to monitor for these potential side effects.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, diazepam is a medication whose effects on the breastfed child are unknown but may be of concern. Meanwhile, the manufacturer does not recommend breastfeeding in patients taking Valium.

Consult your healthcare provider about breastfeeding while on Valium. Your healthcare provider is in the best position to give you recommendations regarding the use of this medication. Since each patient undergoes a different situation, your healthcare provider will give recommendations based on your particular situation.