Risk of Birth Defects Increase With Use of Two Epilepsy Medications

Unfortunately, the use of certain prescription drugs during pregnancy can greatly increase the risk of birth defects in newborns. In fact, two FDA-approved epilepsy medications, Keppra and Lamictal, are examples of the type of prescription medications that could cause harm when taken in pregnancy.

Currently, both Lamictal and Keppra are listed as Category C drugs, but given the fact they could potentially be dangerous to a fetus, many say the drugs should actually be listed as Category D drugs. To explain further, medications with category D classifications have proven to show evidence of risk, but the benefits of their use outweighs the potential for side effects. Category C drugs are those which have proven to be harmful in animal studies alone.

Interestingly, a database called Methodology RXFilter analyzed the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) to note the occurrence of stillbirths, congenital abnormalities and birth defects that had been linked to 18 different epilepsy drugs. The FDA’s AERS is the only database collecting reports of adverse events, but it is out-of-date and incomplete. The RXFilter’s analyzation of the AERS indicated that the FDA needs to reclassify several drugs, especially regarding their use in pregnancy.

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