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Importance of pregnancy care for women with epilepsy reiterated

10 February, 2005

The importance of women with epilepsy receiving appropriate treatment before and during pregnancy has been highlighted in Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB).

Research
has shown that women with epilepsy have an increased risk than women
without epilepsy of experiencing problems such as the child being born
with malformations. Women with the condition should be counselled, DTB
advises, on the potential benefits and risks of taking anti-epileptic
drugs during pregnancy. The risks are increased when the drugs are
taken in combination, however, there are also risks to the mother and
unborn baby if the mother has seizures during pregnancy.

Women
with epilepsy are advised to begin taking daily folic acid supplements
from pre-conception to the end of the first trimester and in addition
be offered high-quality ultrasound scanning for foetal abnormality.

Dr
Ike Iheanacho, editor of DTB, said it is important that women with
epilepsy plan their pregnancies in conjunction with the doctor, if
possible, and allow for their anti-epileptic medication to be reviewed
before conception, ideally with a single drug being prescribed at the
lowest dose that controls the seizures.

He added:

"It
is crucial that women with epilepsy receive appropriate care, both
pre-conception and throughout pregnancy. The correct choice and dosage
of drug treatment are crucial to help minimise both the likelihood of
seizures and the risks associated with drug therapy."