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Guidelines: Pregnancy Safe with Epilepsy, but Valproate Should be Avoided
Date:4/27/2009

nant women with epilepsy should consider having their blood tested regularly. "Levels of seizure medications in the blood tend to drop during pregnancy, so checking these levels and adjusting the medication doses should help to keep the levels in the effective range and the pregnant woman seizure free."

The guidelines also state that physicians of women with epilepsy should consider avoiding the epilepsy drugs phenytoin and phenobarbital in order to prevent the possibility of decreased thinking skills in children. In addition, the guidelines recommend women with epilepsy be warned that smoking may increase substantially the risk of premature contractions and premature labor and delivery during pregnancy.

It is estimated that about half a million women with epilepsy in the United States are of childbearing age and that three to five out of every 1,000 births are to women with epilepsy. The majority of people with epilepsy have well-controlled seizures, are otherwise healthy, and expect to participate fully in life experiences, including pregnancy.

To develop the guidelines, the authors reviewed all scientific studies available on the topic. The guidelines were developed in collaboration with the American Epilepsy Society and will also appear be published in the April 27 online issue of the journal Epilepsia.

The development of the guidelines was supported in part by the Milken Family Foundation.

"For too long, women living with epilepsy have feared the added risk of premature birth and other consequences of both their epilepsy and their medications," said Howard R. Soule, PhD, chief science officer for the Milken Family Foundation. "The results of this project will help relieve the worries of these women and their families."

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to impro
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SOURCE American Academy of Neurology
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