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Br Med J. 1973 November 3; 4(5887): 251–255.
PMCID: PMC1587384

Diazepam in Labour: Its Metabolism and Effect on the Clinical Condition and Thermogenesis of the Newborn


Following the administration of diazepam to mothers in labour the clinical effects, changes in thermogenesis, and metabolism of the drug in the newborn were observed under carefully controlled conditions. A total maternal dose of 30 mg or less in the 15 hours before delivery had little effect on the infants' state. Larger doses, however, were accompanied by low Apgar scores at birth, apnoeic spells, hypotonia, reluctance to feed, and an impaired metabolic response to a cold stress. Measurement of plasma levels of diazepam and its active metabolite showed that both products were detectable in significant concentrations in some infants for up to eight days. We conclude that greater care should be taken in the use of this otherwise effective drug for the treatment of pre-eclampsia.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • De Silva JA, Puglisi CV. Determination of medazepam (nobrium), diazepam(valium) and their major biotransformation products in blod and urine by electron capture s-liquid chromatography. Anal Chem. 1970 Dec;42(14):1725–1736. [PubMed]
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  • Owen JR, Irani SF, Blair AW. Effect of diazepam administered to mothers during labour on temperature regulation of neonate. Arch Dis Child. 1972 Feb;47(251):107–110. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Randall LO, Scheckel CL, Banziger RF. Pharmacology of the metabolites of chlordiazepoxide and diazepam. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. 1965 Sep;7(9):590–606. [PubMed]
  • Rosanelli K. Uber die Wirking von pränatal verabreichtem Diazepam auf das Frühgeborene. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 1970 Aug;30(8):713–724. [PubMed]
  • Scher J, Hailey DM, Beard RW. The effects of diazepm on the fetus. J Obstet Gynaecol Br Commonw. 1972 Jul;79(7):635–638. [PubMed]
  • Schiff D, Chan G, Stern L. Fixed drug combinations and the displacement of bilirubin from albumin. Pediatrics. 1971 Jul;48(1):139–141. [PubMed]
  • Shannon RW, Fraser GP, Aitken RG, Harper JR. Diazepam in preeclamptic toxaemia with special reference to its effect on the newborn infant. Br J Clin Pract. 1972 Jun;26(6):271–275. [PubMed]

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