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Women Taking Certain Epilepsy Drugs Can Safely Breast-Feed, Study Suggests
Date:11/24/2010

By Madonna Behen
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- There's encouraging news for women with epilepsy who want to nurse their babies. Children whose mothers took certain anti-seizure medications while breast-feeding don't appear to suffer any negative cognitive effects by age 3, a new study finds.

The multi-center study looked at nearly 200 children whose mothers took one of four common antiepileptic drugs, and found no difference in IQ levels at age 3 among those who were breast-fed versus formula-fed.

"For women who have epilepsy, this is one less thing that they as new mothers have to worry about," said lead author Dr. Kimford Meador, a professor of neurology at Emory University in Atlanta. The study was published in the Nov. 24 online edition and in the Nov. 30 print issue of the journal Neurology.

The findings are part of the Neurodevelopmental Effects of Antiepileptic Drugs study, an ongoing trial looking at the long-term cognitive effects on children whose mothers took one of four common antiepilepsy meds during and after their pregnancies: carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol XR), lamotrigine (Lamictal), phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek) or valproate (Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene).

For the study, Meador and his colleagues examined the results of IQ tests given to 199 three-year-olds whose mothers entered the trial while they were still pregnant. A total of 194 women at 25 epilepsy centers were enrolled in the study from 1999 to 2004, and there were five sets of twins.

Forty-two percent of the babies were breast-fed, for an average of six months, and mothers who breast-fed tended to have higher average IQs than those who didn't (104 versus 95). After controlling for the mother's IQ, the researchers found that the average IQ in the breast-fed group of children was 99, versus 98 in the non-breast-fed group.

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