Epilepsy and pregnancy.

Abstract:

:According to a London physician, women with epilepsy taking antiepileptic drugs can take combined oral contraceptives (OCs). It is usual to recommend a combined OC preparation containing at least 50 mcg of estrogen (Ovran) from patients taking enzyme-inducing antiepileptic drugs; this can be increased to 60 mcg by taking 2 30 mcg pills, and if necessary to 80 mcg. To ensure that ovulation is inhibited, the blood progesterone concentration can be measured on day 21 of the 1st cycle. The higher doses of estrogen should be accompanied by higher doses of progestogen. The commonest fetal malformations are cleft lip and palate and congenital heart disease, usually septal defects. These abnormalities may be caused by all the major antiepileptic drugs. Phenytoin has been particularly implicated and may cause minor defects in up to 30% of infants and major defects in about 5%. The incidence of cleft palate and heart defects with phenytoin is 1.8% compared with 0.7% in the general population. With sodium valproate, neural tube defects occur in about 1.5% of pregnancies. Present evidence suggests that carbamazepine is the safest drug. Folic acid supplements reduce the risk of neural tube defects in women at risk, therefore women taking antiepileptic drugs who are contemplating pregnancy should be given a small folic acid supplement or a diet rich in folate. To reduce the risk of bleeding in the perinatal period, pregnant women taking enzyme-inducing antiepileptic drugs should be given oral phytomenadione (vitamin K1) 20 mg daily for at least 1 week before delivery. Vitamin K1 should be given to the newborn immediately after delivery. Only phenobarbitone and primidone might be contraindicated for breast feeding. Mothers with uncontrolled major epilepsy should not be left alone with small children. If there is already 1 sibling with epilepsy the risk of inheriting epileptic liability rises to about 10% and if both parent have epilepsy the risk is 15-20%.

journal_name

BMJ

authors

O'Brien MD,Gilmour-White S

doi

10.1136/bmj.307.6902.492

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

1993-08-21 00:00:00

pages

492-5

issue

6902

eissn

0959-8138

issn

1756-1833

journal_volume

307

pub_type

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