Quantcast

Study Shows Epilepsy Drugs Increase The Chance of Birth Defects

According to Yahoo.com HealthDay News, four of the most often prescribed drugs for epilepsy seem to directly correlate with an increase in the chance of a child being born with serious birth defects while taking the drug during pregnancy.

An international team of researchers reported today in their online edition of The Lancet Neurology, that the higher the dose of the medication given, the greater chance of birth defects. The drugs detailed and studied were carbamazepine (Tegretol, Epitol), lamotrigine (Lamictal), valproic acid (Depakote), and phenobarbital.

“Our results show that the dose selection is as crucial as the choice of drug,” the authors said in a journal news release. The study goes into detail discussing the safest ways doctors can prescribe for their pregnant patients.

Although the study did conclude that in some cases an increase in dosage seemed to be linked to birth defects, they also emphasized the vast majority of women in the study delivered healthy babies.

Regardless of the conclusions of the studies, women with epilepsy need to take anti-seizure medication during pregnancy in order to avoid harming themselves or their unborn child. “Present guidelines caution on the use of valproic acid during pregnancy, but offer little guidance on alternative options and how to manage women whose seizures cannot be controlled by other drugs,” said Dr. Torbjorn Tomson, of the Karolinska Institute along with colleagues in the news release.

Although the study did conclude that in some cases an increase in dosage seemed to be linked to birth defects, they also emphasized the vast majority of women in the study delivered healthy babies.

During their 11-year study the researchers used data from the International Registry of Antiepileptic Drugs and Pregnancy covering nearly 4,000 pregnancies in 33 different countries. Out of the 4,000 pregnancies only 230 pregnancies resulted in birth defects.

The study concluded that low doses of lamotrigine (less than 300 milligrams per day) and carbamazepine (less than 400 mg per day) carry the smallest risk of birth defects. In contrast doses of valproic acid (1,500 mg a day or more) and Phenobarbital (150 mg or more) were said to have most direct link to birth defects.

More from our Sister Sites