Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Emory researcher examines effects of antiepileptic drugs on pregnant women and their offspring

29.04.2004


Preliminary data show that babies of epileptic mothers who take antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) during pregnancy absorb the medication to substantial degrees in utero, and some of these babies may develop birth defects, other disabilities or even die. Although the majority of children born to mothers with epilepsy are normal, researchers believe some of these babies are at an increased risk for birth defects or developmental delays. The findings of this nationwide study, still preliminary, will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology in San Francisco, CA, on Wednesday, April 28th at 6 p.m. Eastern.



"Newborns of women with epilepsy have a four to seven percent risk of birth defects, compared to the two to three percent risk of the general population, and we think some antiepileptic medications may be to blame," says Page Pennell, MD, associate professor of neurology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA. "While the outcomes are many times positive, a small number of babies born to epileptic mothers who took AEDs during pregnancy have congenital heart defects, neural tube defects (spina bifida) or cleft lip and palate."

Epilepsy is a chronic medical condition produced by temporary changes in the electrical function of the brain, causing seizures that affect awareness, movement, and/or sensation. One percent of the population has epilepsy at any given time. Mothers with epilepsy are three times as likely as non-epileptic women to give birth to children with epilepsy.


Epilepsy can be treated with drugs, surgery or special diets. Of those treatments, antiepileptic drug therapy is the most common and usually the first to be tried on a patient.

In this five-year study, called the Neurodevelopmental Effects of Antiepileptic Drugs (NEAD) study, some of the most commonly prescribed seizure-control drugs are being tested to determine if they have a negative, lasting impact on the developing brains of fetuses when mothers take them while pregnant. The four medications being studied are carbamazepine (Tegretol, Tegretol-XR, Carbatrol), lamotrigine (Lamictal), phenytoin (Dilantin) and valproate (Depakote).

In the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, nearly 350 mother/child pairs were enrolled at 28 centers in the U.S. and U.K. Emory enrolled 29 pairs. With over a year left in the study to record and analyze the effects of the drugs, researchers are already seeing significant data related to complications with these medications. The percentages of children with birth defects, developmental disabilities or death for each AED were as follows: carbamazepine 10 percent, lamotrigine two percent, phenytoin seven percent, and valproate 28 percent.

"While our numbers are still preliminary, we are learning that some of the newer AEDs, like lamotrigine, cause less harm to the child, while it looks like others cause more damage," says Dr. Pennell, who is leading the NEAD study at Emory University. " We will have to wait until the study is complete, however, to know exactly which medications are best for fetal development."

Researchers are also learning that effects of AEDs in offspring may not be so instant. "We are recognizing that we need to not only be concerned about birth defects from the AEDs, but also about cognitive effects later in the child’s life," says Dr. Pennell. "At two years of age, we are realizing some of these children are experiencing speech delays, delays in walking and difficulties with fine motor skills. This study should help us notice the subtle differences in a child’s ability to learn, and it should help us understand how to best care for pregnant women and their children." The NEAD study looks at the child’s actual IQ vs. its predicted IQ based on parental testing.

The researchers are expanding this study to examine how AEDs cross into the fetus and exactly how much of the medications are absorbed (see next release). They also hope to follow all children in the study until they are six-years-old.

"Women with epilepsy who are considering pregnancy must weigh the option of staying on their medications during pregnancy or coming off of them," Dr. Pennell explains. "In many cases, the risk of seizures is clearly higher than the risk of medications. In epileptic mothers, most AEDs are paramount, simply because seizures during pregnancy can cause traumatic injuries to the fetus, fetal distress, miscarriages, and premature labor. Patients should always talk with their doctor before becoming pregnant to discuss which treatment plan is best for them. The NEAD study will help us determine the different risks between AEDs on the market today and the safest medications to prescribe to epileptic mothers during fetal development."

Janet Christenbury | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.emory.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Routing gene therapy directly into the brain
07.12.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

nachricht New Hope for Cancer Therapies: Targeted Monitoring may help Improve Tumor Treatment
01.12.2017 | Berliner Institut für Gesundheitsforschung / Berlin Institute of Health (BIH)

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

12.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>