New epilepsy drugs safe in pregnancy, study finds
May 16th, 2011
04:52 PM ET

New epilepsy drugs safe in pregnancy, study finds

Doctors used to tell women with epilepsy not to have children, because the only available medications to treat the disorder also increased the risk of birth defects.

But newer antiepileptic medications used during the first trimester carry no such risks, finds a new study published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Commonly, the message was, ‘you cannot have children,’” says Dr. Page Pennell, chair of the Professional Advisory Board for the Epilepsy Foundation. “So it really was an unfortunate situation when young women or even teenagers were told that their whole life-course was determined by the fact that they need an epilepsy medication.”

The second-generation of antiepileptic medications began appearing in the early 1990s, and are commonly prescribed to treat other conditions too, such as migraines and bipolar mood disorder.

Importantly, the study only measures the risks of birth defects – it does not measure other risks, such as miscarriages and learning disabilities.

“We have some pretty consistent findings between studies that show that some medications, for instance, Valproic acid, have a particularly high risk for children having a learning disability and possibly even autism spectrum disorder,” says Pennell. “But other medications can be quite safe and not have increased risks of learning problems in the child.”

One major limitation of the study findings is the grouping of antiepileptic drugs into just two broad categories, says Pennell. The study compares newer drugs with older drugs, but within and across those two categories, some drugs are safer than others.

For example, the antiepileptic drug topiramate is one of the second-generation drugs found to be safe by the study, but in March the FDA issued a stronger warning for the drug, saying that “there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on human data.”

The researchers studied data from 837,795 live-born infants in Denmark using the country’s Medical Birth Registry and information on filled prescriptions from the Registry of Medicinal Product Statistics.

soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. Lacey

    It seems like no one has really posted on here since 2013 but me and my boyfriend are decideding to start to try have kids within a year or two I am on Topamax 50MG a day I know this is a low dose compared to everyone else. I have been seizure free for 3 years now. I have also been on Topamax since I was turning 15. I was just wondering if Topamax is still a good drug to be since mine is such a low dose? and if I switch it soon enough will my baby still be okay?

    April 6, 2014 at 08:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. jimm nancy

    My son started having seizures he had his first seizure at 6 year within 12 hours We spent 6 days in the hospital where different doctors looking at different things couldn’t agree on why he suffered a seizure… He has had genetic tests including a muscle biopsy. I used to wonder why my son were getting so many vaccinations shots at such a young age, Still the doctors wouldn’t admit it was the vaccination shots. After his 2nd seizure I wouldn’t allow my son to be vaccinated anymore but I believe the damage is done. It was during a casual conversation with a friend that I learned about Doctor Lawson Bryan i was so glad to know him on how his herbal product work, I contacted Lawson and explain everything to him and make purchase of his product. few days later i received the herbal medicine my son used it for 3 mouths i notice improvement in less than a month my son was totally cured of seizure now he have not experience any sign of seizure. Contact doctor Lawson Bryan on this + 1 (979) 475-5130 or e-mail dr.lawson52 @gmail .com.

    October 25, 2017 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
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