New studies show mixed results on the effects of epilepsy drugs taken during pregnancy. With a newer drug, lamotrigine, the risk of birth defects was similar to that in women without epilepsy. But long-time epilepsy drug valproic acid, or sodium valproate, does increase the risk of birth defects. Both studies were published in the March 22 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Another study in the same issue found that children ages 6 to 16 who had been exposed to valproic acid during pregnancy had lower verbal IQ scores than children exposed to other epilepsy drugs or no epilepsy drugs during pregnancy.
The good news comes from the study of lamotrigine, which is one of several newer epilepsy drugs introduced after 1990. Few studies have been done on these drugs’ effects on human fetuses. This study monitored birth defects in lamotrigine-exposed pregnancies reported over more than 11 years in the International Lamotrigine Pregnancy Registry.
Marilee Reu | EurekAlert!
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