Beta blockers are the most commonly used class of medication for treating cardiac conditions in pregnant women. They are also effective for the treatment of anxiety symptoms, most commonly performance anxiety.
According to a report published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, maternal use of beta-blockers during pregnancy (n=4847) was associated with increased risk for fetal cardiac anomalies; however this finding was observed only in the raw data which was unadjusted for potential confounding variables. Among infants exposed to beta-blockers at any point during pregnancy, the unadjusted odds ratio for cardiac anomalies was 2.7 (95% CI 2.4-3.1); however the odds ratio decreased to 1.1 (95% CI 0.9-1.3) in the analysis adjusted for maternal age, BMI and medical comorbidities.
According to a commentary in Medpage Today:
“This study doesn’t completely answer the question, but it does suggest that prior studies showing an association were potentially confounded,” he [Brian Bateman, MD from Massachusetts General Hospital] said. “These findings are definitely reassuring, but there is still more that we need to learn about the impact of ?-blockers on the developing fetus, including other potential malformations such as intrauterine growth restriction.”
Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD
?-Blocker Exposure in Pregnancy and Risk of Fetal Cardiac Anomalies. Duan L, Ng A, Chen W, Spencer HT, Nguyen J, Shen AY, Lee MS. JAMA Intern Med. 2017 Apr 17.
No Fetal Heart Risk from Mom’s Beta-Blocker Use (Medpage Today)