Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Finds Anticonvulsant Drug Poses Greater Birth-defect Risk Than Suspected

Date:
March 22, 2005
Source:
Massachusetts General Hospital
Summary:
Use of the anticonvulsant drug valproate during pregnancy may pose a significantly great risk of birth defects than does use of other antiseizure medications. In the March 22 issue of Neurology, researchers from the North American AED (Antiepileptic Drug) Pregnancy Registry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that women taking valproate alone had a fourfold increased risk of having a child with a major malformation, compared with the risk among women taking other anticonvulsants.

Use of the anticonvulsant drug valproate during pregnancy may pose a significantly great risk of birth defects than does use of other antiseizure medications. In the March 22 issue of Neurology, researchers from the North American AED (Antiepileptic Drug) Pregnancy Registry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that women taking valproate alone had a fourfold increased risk of having a child with a major malformation, compared with the risk among women taking other anticonvulsants.

"The basic message for women who take valproate is to plan ahead if they want to have children. Discuss the risks with their physician and consider taking alternative drugs," says Lewis Holmes, MD, chief of the Genetics and Teratology Unit at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, director of the registry and senior author of the Neurology paper.

Sold in the U.S. under the brand names Depakote and Depakene, valproate is used to treat seizures, migraines and such psychiatric disorders as bipolar disorder. Earlier studies have suggested a potential risk of birth defects, primarily neural tube defects such as spina bifida, but none had definitively established the level of risk and the types of malformations that most frequently occur.

The North American AED Pregnancy Registry was established in 1996 and has enrolled more than 4,000 women who took anticonvulsant drugs during pregnancy. The current study analyzed information from 149 women who took only valproate while pregnant during the years 1997 to 2003. Of those 149 women, 16 had infants with major birth defects. Three infants had spina bifida, and a wide variety of malformations was seen in the others, including developmental delays.

While the risk level among women taking valproate was 10.7 percent, the risk for women in the registry who took other anticonvulsants as single-drug therapy was only 2.9 percent. In a comparison group of infants whose mothers had not taken an anticonvulsant drug, the frequency of major malformations in infants born to women at Brigham and Women's Hospital was 1.6 percent.

"This is the first indication to many neurologists that they should focus on more than the risk of spina bifida with this drug," says Holmes. "Many physicians have just advised their patients taking valproate to make sure to take folic acid to prevent neural tube defects; but the women in our study who had children with spinal bifida or other malformations had all taken the recommended dose of folic acid." Holmes is a professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Co-authors of the Neurology report are first author Diego Wyszynski, MD, PhD, of Boston University School of Medicine and Public Health; Maya Nambisian, MPH, and Triptaa Surve, MPH, of Harvard Medical School; Caitlin Reilly Smith, MPH, of the MGH, and Rachel Alsdorf of Boston University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts General Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts General Hospital. "Study Finds Anticonvulsant Drug Poses Greater Birth-defect Risk Than Suspected." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050322134452.htm>.
Massachusetts General Hospital. (2005, March 22). Study Finds Anticonvulsant Drug Poses Greater Birth-defect Risk Than Suspected. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050322134452.htm
Massachusetts General Hospital. "Study Finds Anticonvulsant Drug Poses Greater Birth-defect Risk Than Suspected." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050322134452.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye'

Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye'

AP (Apr. 23, 2014) A legally blind Michigan man is 'seeing something new every day' thanks to a high-tech retinal implant procedure. He's one of the first in the country to receive a 'bionic eye' since the federal government approved the surgery. (April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins