Is Baclofen Safe To Take while Pregnant?

There is always a certain level of risk during pregnancy, and the potential for certain complications and birth defects can be heightened because of medications or substances used during pregnancy. This includes over-the-counter and prescription medications. Lioresal is a brand-name, prescription drug used orally, and the generic name is baclofen. Baclofen is classified as a muscle relaxant and antispastic. Baclofen is used for the treatment of uncontrolled muscle movements usually caused by spinal cord diseases or injuries and multiple sclerosis. Baclofen is a central nervous system depressant, and it’s a derivative of the naturally-occurring GABA neurotransmitter.

For the most part, baclofen and Lioresal aren’t drugs of abuse. They don’t have addictive or euphoric properties, and there are limited cases of people abusing this drug. However, withdrawal symptoms can occur if someone stops using it suddenly. Baclofen can have sedative and anti-anxiety properties as well, which some users find desirable. Regardless, since the instances of abuse seem to be fairly low with Lioresal, if a woman is using it during pregnancy she’s likely prescribed to it. Is it safe, however? If a woman is prescribed Lioresal to treat a condition involving muscle spasticity and she stops taking it during pregnancy, are there alternatives? What effects can baclofen have on a fetus? These are all questions people may have. The overall recommendation is that baclofen while pregnant may not be safe. There are studies linking Lioresal while pregnant and generic baclofen while pregnant to birth defects in animals. If someone is taking the drug and may be pregnant or is planning to become pregnant, they should speak with their physician first.

Will Taking Baclofen Affect a Fetus?

Baclofen and brand-name Lioresal may not be safe during pregnancy. However, there aren’t definitive, controlled human studies on the topic. In animal studies where baclofen was given orally, it was shown to increase the likelihood of omphaloceles in fetuses. There aren’t definitive links showing the effects of Lioresal on a fetus leading to preterm birth, miscarriage, or low birth weight, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. If a woman was pregnant and experienced toxicity from taking a high dose of baclofen or Lioresal, this could potentially pass to the baby. For example, if a woman became extremely drowsy because of baclofen toxicity, her unborn baby may have similar effects. The risk of any effects from baclofen on a fetus tends to be lower when the drug is administered through an injection in the spine as opposed to orally. This is because smaller amounts enter the bloodstream as opposed to when it’s used orally.

With a medication like baclofen or Lioresal, what a doctor will usually do is weigh the benefits versus the risks. If the benefits of the mother continuing the medication are greater than the potential risks of baclofen on a fetus, then the doctor may advise she keep taking it during her pregnancy. However, if this isn’t the case, the doctor may recommend something that is considered safer. There are a lot of unknowns and limited information on the potential effects of baclofen on a fetus, making it important pregnant women speak first and foremost with their medical provider. It should also be noted that the limited available information on baclofen and pregnancy seems to show that when fetuses are exposed to it earlier on in pregnancy, it can lead to a higher risk of malformations.

Babies Born Addicted to Baclofen

While there is limited information about known instances of birth defects resulting from baclofen during pregnancy, there is more evidence that the use of baclofen can cause neonatal withdrawal symptoms after birth. Withdrawal symptoms of baclofen and Liorecet can be similar to alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal. A baby who is born addicted to baclofen may experience crying, irritability and other symptoms early on although they will likely subside over time. Something else to note is that if a mother has regularly used baclofen before becoming pregnant, she shouldn’t stop cold turkey. Stopping a drug like baclofen cold turkey during pregnancy can be dangerous or life-threatening to the woman and her unborn baby. Instead, she should consult her doctor about the best option to avoid abrupt withdrawal and severe symptoms and complications.

Alternatives To Taking Baclofen While Pregnant

Lioresal can help treat serious conditions causing muscle spasticity, so it may not be an option for mothers to stop using it during pregnancy. The risks of not using it could outweigh potential benefits. However, this is something that should only be determined by a medical professional. It’s important not just to stop using it suddenly when you become pregnant. If someone is using baclofen or Liorecet recreationally, they may need to participate in an addiction treatment program during their pregnancy to help them stop using it.

To learn more about addiction treatment, during pregnancy and otherwise, contact The Recovery Village.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.