Navigation Links
Common Epilepsy Drug Taken During Pregnancy Might Raise Spina Bifida Risk

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women with epilepsy who are taking carbamazepine (Tegretol) to control seizures may be at a slightly increased risk of having an infant with spina bifida, a new study finds.

Spina bifida is a condition in which the bones of the spine do not close but the spinal cord remains in place, usually with skin covering the defect. Most children will need lifelong treatment for problems arising from damage to the spinal cord and spinal nerves.

"For women with epilepsy, seizure control during pregnancy is very important," said lead researcher Lolkje de Jong-van den Berg, from the division of pharmacy at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. "Our study can help in decisions regarding whether carbamazepine should be the drug of choice in pregnancy."

However, the best option regarding treatment can be chosen only on an individual basis by the woman and her neurologist before pregnancy, weighing the benefits of epilepsy control against the risk of birth defects, de Jong-van den Berg said.

The report is published in the Dec. 3 online edition of the BMJ.

For the study, de Jong-van den Berg's team reviewed existing research to determine the risk of birth defects among women taking Tegretol.

The researchers found that infants of women taking Tegretol were 2.6 times more likely to have spina bifida, compared with women not taking any anti-epileptic medication.

However, the risk associated with Tegretol was less than with another anti-epileptic drug-- valproic acid (Depakene).

In fact, Tegretol was less risky than valproic acid when it came to other birth defects such as hypospadias, where a boy's urinary opening develops in the wrong part of the penis or in the scrotum.

"Carbamazepine is specifically related to an increased risk of spina bifida," de Jong-van den Berg said. "But you have to keep in mind that the absolute risk is small."

For Tegretol taken in the first trimester, the overall risk of a major malformation was 3.3 percent, the study authors reported.

The same group of researchers found in another study, published this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, that women taking valproic acid were six times more likely to have an infant with spina bifida and seven times more likely have an infant with hypospadias, compared with women using other anti-epileptic drugs.

The researchers agree with a recommendation from the American Academy of Neurology that valproic acid should be avoided in pregnancy if possible.

Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of the Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, said that "for women of childbearing age, these drugs represent a risk."

Women need to balance the risk and benefit of these drugs, he explained. Women with epilepsy need to stay on an anti-epileptic drug while they are pregnant, Devinsky said.

"The risk of seizure to themselves and potentially to their fetus is greater than the risk of anti-epileptic drugs," he added.

There are alternative drugs, specifically lamotrigine (Lamictal) and levetiracetam (Keppra). However, there is little data on any dangers associated with these drugs during pregnancy, Devinsky noted.

Another expert, Dr. Kimford Meador, a professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine, said women need to know the risks associated with Tegretol.

"If a woman is of childbearing potential and you are prescribing this drug, that's when the conversation needs to occur," Meador said.

More information

For more information on epilepsy, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Lolkje de Jong-van den Berg, Ph.D., Pharm.D., Division of Pharmacy, University of Groningen, the Netherlands; Orrin Devinsky M.D., director, Epilepsy Center, NYU Langone Medical Center, and professor, neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York City; Kimford Meador, M.D., professor, neurology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta; Dec. 3, 2010, BMJ, online

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Adapting to clogged airways makes common pathogen resist powerful drugs
2. A common cholesterol drug fights cataracts, too
3. U.S. National Guard Connects Nationwide with Desktop Alert's Command and Control Mass Notification Systems and Common Alerting Protocol (CAP)
4. US21, Inc. is Granted a Wholesale Distributor Permit from the Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Pharmacy
5. New therapeutic target for most common solid cancer in childhood?
6. Migraine More Common in Women with MS
7. Contrast-enhanced MRI could play a key role in differentiating between common types of arthritis
8. Six "Common Sense" Points Not Included In The Health Care Discussion? Should They Be?
9. Six "Common Sense" Points Not Included In The Health Care Discussion? Should They Be?
10. Common osteoporosis drugs are associated with a decrease in risk of breast cancer
11. Commonwealth Leverage Group and Helium Interactive Form HIE Go-To-Market Partnership
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Common Epilepsy Drug Taken During Pregnancy Might Raise Spina Bifida Risk
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... 27th edition of USA Today in Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Minneapolis, South Florida, ... The digital component is distributed nationally, through a vast social media strategy and ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... MPWH, the No.1 Herpes-only dating community in the world, ... Table 1-1 ). More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 – ... according to WHO's first global estimates of HSV-1 infection . , "The data shocks ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... of the well-respected Microsoft Dynamics SL User Group (MSDSLUG). Recognized as Microsoft’s official ... independent group of Microsoft Dynamics SL software users, partners, industry experts and representatives. ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... The moment you stop improving ... only fulfilling the needs of advisers and clients but going above and beyond ... top-tier customer service. However, there's always room for improvement, which is why the ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... , ... CBD College is proud to announce that on November ... to its Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. CBD College is honored to join this very ... and universities in the state of California make the cut. CBD College is officially ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... --> adds "Global ... and "Investigation Report on China Repaglinide ... 2021 forecasts data and information to ... . --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... DUBLIN , Nov. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the addition of the "Global ... to their offering. --> ... "Global Brain Monitoring Devices Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 AAIPharma Services Corp./Cambridge Major ... at least $15.8  Million to expand its laboratories ... . The expansion will provide additional office ... growing demands of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology markets. ... will provide up to 40,000 square feet of ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: