Objective: To determine if exposure to benzodiazepines during the first trimester of pregnancy increases risk of major malformations or cleft lip or palate.
Setting: Studies from 1966 to present.
Subjects: Studies were located with Medline, Embase, Reprotox, and from references of textbooks, reviews, and included articles. Included studies were original, concurrently controlled studies in any language.
Interventions: Data extraction and quality assessment were done independently and in duplicate.
Main outcome measures: Maternal exposure to benzodiazepines in at least the first trimester; incidence of major malformations or oral cleft alone, measured as odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals with a random effects model.
Results: Of over 1400 studies reviewed, 74 were retrieved and 23 included. In the analysis of cohort studies fetal exposure to benzodiazepine was not associated with major malformations (odds ratio 0.90; 95% confidence interval 0.61 to 1.35) or oral cleft (1.19; 0.34 to 4.15). Analysis of case-control studies showed an association between exposure to benzodiazepines and development of major malformations (3.01; 1.32 to 6.84) or oral cleft alone (1.79; 1.13 to 2.82).
Conclusions: Pooled data from cohort studies showed no association between fetal exposure to benzodiazepines and the risk of major malformations or oral cleft. On the basis of pooled data from case-control studies, however, there was a significant increased risk for major malformations or oral cleft alone. Until more research is reported, level 2 ultrasonography should be used to rule out visible forms of cleft lip.
- Pooled data from cohort studies showed no apparent association between fetal exposure to benzodiazepines and the risk for major malformations or oral cleft
- Data from case-control studies showed that risk for major malformations or oral cleft alone was increased
- Until more studies are done, it is prudent to perform level 2 ultrasonography to rule out visible forms of cleft lip