The teratogenic potential of barbiturates is debated. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of very large doses of different barbiturates, except phenobarbital and amobarbital, on fetal development in pregnant women who attempted suicide. These self-poisoned pregnant women were identified among the patients of the Department of Toxicology Internal Medicine, Korányi Hospital, Budapest. The prevalence at birth of congenital abnormalities and intrauterine fetal growth, based on pregnancy age at delivery and birth weight, as well as cognitive-behavioral status in exposed children born to mothers who attempted suicide with barbiturates alone or in combination with other drugs, during pregnancy, were compared with their sibs as controls. Of 1044 women with self-poisoning during pregnancy between 1960 and 1993, 411 delivered live-born babies; of these, 367 (89.3%) exposed children were evaluated. Of the 367 exposed children, 6, 5, 4 and 4 were born to mothers who attempted suicide with very large doses of Barbamid®(butobarbital and aminophenazone), hexobarbital, butobarbital and Belloid®(butobarbital, hyoscyamine and secalis cornuti alkaloida) tablets, respectively. Of 19 exposed children, two children with a congenital inguinal hernia were born to mothers who attempted suicide with 30 tablets of Belloid®(900 mg butobarbital) in the 20th postconceptional week or with 20 tablets of Belloid®in combination with chlordiazepoxide (100 mg) and nitrazepam (100 mg) in 12th postconceptional week. However, the critical period for production of congenital inguinal hernia is in the last months of pregnancy. None of the exposed children born to the other 12 pregnant women who attempted suicide with these barbiturates between the third and 12th postconceptional week, i.e., during the critical period for production of most major congenital abnormalities, had a congenital abnormality. Congenital abnormalities did not occur among 16 sib controls. Intrauterine fetal growth was similar between sibs and exposed children; cognitive status and behavioral scale also did not indicate any neurotoxic effects from large doses of these barbiturates. The very large doses of barbital, hexobarbital and/or butobarbital used for self-poisoning during pregnancy were not teratogenic to the children, although it must be recognized that the number of exposed children was limited.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis