Epilepsy Drugs May Up Risk of Pregnancy Complications

Recently, we’ve done quite a bit of reporting on the link between epilepsy drugs like <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Depakote-Lawsuit-Lawyer-Birth-Defects">Depakote and birth defects. Now a new study finds that such drugs might also increase the risk that pregnant women who take them will suffer from complications, including preeclampsia. The study appears in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.

In reaching their conclusions, researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway compared medical records covering the pregnancies of nearly 200 women with epilepsy to those of the same number of women without epilepsy. They also looked at differences between the epileptic woman taking seizure medications and those who did not.

Overall, women with epilepsy were more likely to experience pregnancy complications compared to women who did not have the disorder. But taking epilepsy drugs increased the risk for some complications. The study found that almost 8 percent of women who took epilepsy medication suffered from severe preeclampsia, compared to less than 3 percent of women who did not take the drugs. Epileptic women taking the medications were also twice as likely to have labor induced and emergency Cesarean sections compared to epileptic woman who were not taking the mediations. There was also an increased risk of bleeding in early pregnancy in women using the medications.

According to the study authors, the occurrence of seizures, use of high doses of antiepileptic drugs, obesity and lack of folate could not explain these increased risks.

The authors of the study were quick to point out, however, that their findings do not prove the medications cause the complications noted in the study. They also cautioned that pregnant women should not stop taking their epilepsy medication without talking to their doctor, as having a seizure poses a great danger to both the women and their unborn child.

Instead, they encouraged epileptic women to visit their neurologists and obstetricians before and during pregnancy to minimize the risk of complications. Physicians, they said should pay close attention to these patients from both an obstetric and an epilepsy standpoint.

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