Epilepsy Medication May Be Problematic for Pregnant WomenJanuary 24, 2018
Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder that can cause unpredictable seizures. It affects people of all ages and covers a wide range of seizure types, including generalized onset seizures, focal onset seizures, and unknown onset seizures.
One of the drugs commonly used to treat epileptic seizures is topiramate. However, when a doctor prescribes topiramate to a pregnant women, it can have serious side effects. A study published in the journal Neurology warns that, if taken during the first trimester, topiramate may cause birth defects in a pregnant woman’s unborn child.
According to the study, the increased risk specifically applies to women who take an average daily dose of 200 milligrams of topiramate to control their epilepsy. Researchers also found that lower doses can cause birth defects.
In addition to treating seizures, topiramate is also used for migraine headaches and bipolar disorder, and can help with weight loss when used in combination with other drugs. If a woman is prescribed 100 milligrams of topiramate to treat any of these conditions, and she is in her first trimester of pregnancy, there is an increased risk that her child could be born with a cleft lip or palate.
According to the author of the study, Dr. Sonia Hernandez-Diaz of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, women with epilepsy are at greater risk because it requires a higher dose of topiramate to effectively control seizures than it does to treat other conditions. The study reviewed approximately ten years’ worth of Medicaid data on close to 1.4 million women who gave birth.
Researchers compared patients who took topiramate during their first trimester for a range of conditions to women who did not take topiramate, or any other anti-seizure medication. They also looked at the differences between women who were taking topiramate with those who were taking lamotrigine, another anti-seizure medication. They found the following results:
- The risk of having a baby with a cleft lip or palate in women who were not taking an anti-seizure drug was 1.1 per 1,000
- For the 2,800 pregnant women who took lamotrigine, the risk was 1.5 per 1,000
- For the 2,400 women who took topiramate during the first trimester of pregnancy, the risk was 4.1 per 1,000
Hernandez-Diaz recommends that women of childbearing age avoid taking topiramate, if possible, due to the increased risk to the unborn child. As some pregnancies are unplanned, a woman may continue to take the medication without realizing she is pregnant, putting the baby at risk. However, there are some instances in which a doctor prescribes the medication without alerting the patient to the potential side effects. In these cases, a claim of medical malpractice may be pursued.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Fight for Pregnant Women Prescribed Topiramate Without Warning
If your doctor prescribed topiramate during the first trimester of pregnancy without explaining the risks, contact a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-457-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
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