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.
Janet Christenbury | EurekAlert!
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