Women with very serious mental illnesses often need medications like Xanax in order to get through their pregnancies successfully. Without them, the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can be too hard for them to bear, and they might be tempted to end the pregnancy much too early if they’re not given help for their illnesses. But there are some people who take Xanax during pregnancy for reasons that have nothing to do with an underlying mental illness like depression. These women might be addicted to the euphoria a Xanax pill can deliver, and they might put their developing children at great risk if they don’t gain control.
The active ingredient in Xanax can pass through from a woman’s body to that of her unborn child through the placenta. The more of this drug a woman takes in, the more her baby also takes. Research suggests that benzodiazepines like Xanax can impair the growth process a child goes through during the pregnancy. Specifically, a study published in BMJ suggests that Xanax and other benzodiazepine drugs can cause a cleft to form between a baby’s nose and upper lip. This is a facial deformity that can be corrected with surgery, but the cleft can also extend inside the baby’s mouth, meaning the child won’t be able to eat properly, and surgery must be performed within the first few days of life. Putting a small baby through surgery isn’t without risk, and it can be expensive, but women who take Xanax during pregnancy may be inadvertently leading their children toward this process. In addiction to cleft concerns, a separate study in the journal Reproductive Toxicology suggests that babies born to mothers who take benzodiazepines can display a number of unusual symptoms after birth, including:
- Reluctance to nurse
- Intolerance to cold
- Stiff arms and legs (hypertonia)
These symptoms tend to wear off, researchers say, but they’re still a concern for babies and the doctors who care for them.
Stopping the Cycle
Women who attempt to stop a Xanax habit cold turkey during pregnancy may think they’re making a good choice for the baby’s health, but this practice can cause seizures that could lead to a miscarriage. That’s why it’s vital for women to work with their doctors in order to kick the habit before the baby is born. Doctors can develop a tapering withdrawal program that can allow a woman to get sober without losing her baby or her health in the process. In a perfect world, women would stop abusing Xanax before they got pregnant. We can help. At The Oaks at La Paloma in Memphis, Tennessee, we offer a number of treatment programs that can help people who are addicted to Xanax. We can also offer integrated help if a mental illness is in play. Our counselors can develop a program that’s just right for you, no matter the cause, and we can include your family in the healing too, so you’ll all feel more connected when the process is complete. Please call us and our admissions coordinators can explain how Xanax detox and treatment works.