Epilepsy drug lingers despite birth defect risk
EMORY (US) — Compared to women who have epilepsy, those who don’t are four times more likely to be prescribed an antiepileptic drug that’s known to cause severe birth defects.
A recent study shows that prescriptions for the drug valproate have not decreased in recent years, despite awareness of the birth defect and brain damage risk.
Led by Godfrey P. Oakley, Jr., research professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, a research team analyzed data from the National Hospital and Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys from 1996 to 2007 to examine valproate prescriptions for adolescent girls and adult women aged 14-45 years.
Findings from the study conclude that 83 percent of valproate prescriptions were written for women without epilepsy, with 74 percent of those prescribed for psychiatric, non-epilepsy diagnoses and the remaining valproate prescriptions used for conditions such as pain, migraine, and other non-epilepsy conditions.
“We were surprised to find that there was no decrease in the number of valproate prescriptions prescribed to women of reproductive-age despite the numerous, less harmful antiepileptic drugs available and the proven evidence of valproate’s harmful effects during pregnancy,” says Oakley, also the director of Emory’s Center for Spina Bifida Research, Prevention, and Policy.
The complete study is published in Birth Defects Research Part A—Clinical and Molecular Teratology.
“We believe that sharply reducing the use of valproate for reproductive-age women is an important step in preventing birth defects,” explains Oakley.
Source: Emory University
You are free to share this article under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license.