Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Epilepsy drug linked to babies being born with spina bifida

From Press TV:

Epileptic women taking the commonly used anti-epileptic drug, carbamazepine, are at an increased risk of giving birth to a child with spina bifida, a new study says.

Spina bifida is neural tube defect characterized by incomplete development of the spinal cord in which skin covers the defect. Most cases may need lifelong treatment for problems arising from damage to the spinal cord and nerves.

According to the study published in BMJ Online First, babies born to women taking carbamazepine in the first three months of pregnancy are 2.6 times more likely to have major malformations.

Compared with another anti-epileptic named valproic acid, the consumption of carbamazepine is associated with a lower risk of the birth defect, University of Groningen researchers found.

"Most exposed pregnancies result in a baby without malformation,” said study researcher Lolkje de Jong-van den Berg.

Researchers, therefore, urged epileptic mothers not to quit their medications as such an act may pose more risks, including trauma during seizure episodes, to them and their fetus.

"The best option regarding anti-epileptic drug treatment can be chosen only on an individual basis by the woman and neurologist before pregnancy, weighing the benefits of epilepsy control against the risk,” she added.