Becoming or getting pregnant can be somewhat of a challenge for many women, especially when certain medications have to be put aside for those nine months. But now, one type of medication for a common disorder has been given the all-clear as new research has uncovered that this epilepsy drug is safe to take during pregnancy. It's certainly a groundbreaking discovery, considering that many drugs are considered quite precarious to take while expecting.
As a new study, published by The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, has learned, the epilepsy drug lamotrigine has been declared a safe drug for pregnant women. The research looked at "the children of 83 epileptic women treated with lamotrigine during pregnancy at a tertiary medical center between 2004 and 2014," according to a press release of the study.
In looking at each case, the researchers discovered that there were no real threats to the health and well-being of the children of women who were taking lamotrigine while they were pregnant. In fact, the study followed some of the children up until they turned 12 years old, and never discovered any severe medical symptoms, including any "neurodevelopmental disorders," according to the study's findings.
Although this isn't the only medication that's safe to consume while pregnant, this new discovery is still important, as moms who struggle with epilepsy can now feel safe to treat their condition while also trying to get pregnant.
Epilepsy is a common seizure disorder and the fourth most common neurological disorder and affects people of all ages, according to the Epilepsy Foundation of America. As the National Center for Biotechnology Information notes, "over one million women of childbearing age," are diagnosed with epilepsy, and its effects on the brain and body are much worse than many assume. Medically speaking, "Hormonal influences may increase seizure activity, alter endocrine function, and affect fertility," which is why epilepsy medications are so crucial for women to stay informed about, the organization notes.
While epilepsy is a serious condition that requires treatment, it rarely impacts a woman's ability to give birth to a normal and healthy baby. As the Epilepsy Foundation of America reports, more than 90 percent of women are able to do so if they seek proper care.
"Even though there is 25% risk of worsening seizures in pregnancy, with proper management this can be controlled," the foundation notes. "Convulsive seizures can be harmful to the fetus, and more so the medications, so it is important to have them under control."
Previously, there was relatively little knowledge on specific epilepsy medications and their effects on a pregnancy. However, it was generally accepted that they could lead to severe birth defects. As the Epilepsy Foundation of America further noted:
The most common malformations include cleft lip and clef palate (which can be surgically corrected), problems with the heart, urinary or genital systems ... Some medications, for example, valproic acid/valproate, may also affect a child's development. Research continues in this area.
However, these new results clearly indicate that the specific epilepsy drug, lamotrigine — sold under the brand names Lamictal and Lamictal XR, and is also available as a generic drug — is relatively safe for women during pregnancy. As the study recommends:
According to our experience, lamotrigine is generally safe for pregnancy use, associated with minimal short-term complications with no long-term effects on the outcome.
This new study is certainly a comforting development for the millions of women who live from epilepsy and want to start a family. A mother's health is of the utmost importance, and knowing that a group of medical experts have deemed an important medication safe could ensure that their care is not disrupted while they're expecting.
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