Birth Defects Due To Epilepsy Drugs Depend On Dosage

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Epilepsy drugs increase risk of birth defects

A recent study found that the four most commonly prescribed epilepsy medications increase the risk of birth defects in unborn babies when the drugs are administered during pregnancy. The online edition of the Lancet Neurology also mentioned that the risk of the birth defects increases with a higher dose of the medicines.All four drugs risky

The four drugs that formed a part of the study were carbamazepine, lamotrigine, valproic acid, and phenobarbital. Although, the study showed an increased risk with expectant mothers on a higher dosage, a majority of the women forming part of the study delivered normal and healthy babies. The study provides women who suffer from epilepsy to consume the safest dose of epilepsy drugs while they want to get pregnant.

Anti-seizure medications important

Most expectant mothers need to take epilepsy medicines to avoid harming themselves or the babies. An old study prohibited pregnant women suffering from epilepsy to take valproic acid. However, the doses were not considered and other factors, such as family history of birth defects and the severity of the seizures were not considered. The present guidelines also caution administering of valproic acid but do not provide any alternative medicine to control the seizures.

The recommended dosages

The study was conducted over an eleven-year period and included 4000 pregnancies in 33 countries. The research showed 230 major birth defects at the end of the first year since birth. The study concluded that less than 300 mg of lamotrigine and 400 mg of carbamazepine are considered safe doses. The riskiest dosage was found to be 1500 mg of valproic acid and over 150 mg of Phenobarbital. A family history of birth defects increased the risk by four times.

Importance in drug administration

The findings of this study are very important because they provide details on the safer medicines and the recommended dosages. Till date, the dangers of using certain drugs to control seizures were provided but no alternatives were given. This limitation is overcome by the safe limits outlined in this study making it easy for physicians to control epilepsy in pregnant women. In addition, to giving guidance to the doctors, the new study provides additional information to the patients. Therefore, the women can now plan their pregnancies based on their choice of lowering or switching between different medicines to control their seizures.