Lamotrigine for Epilepsy May Not Increase the Risk of Birth Defects

Previous studies that have linked birth defects and epileptic drugs may not be accurate.

Lamotrigine is a drug used to control epileptic seizures. This drug is especially important among pregnant women, in order to prevent harm to the fetus.

A study published by Neurology has shown initial research that concluded lamotrigine can cause birth defects such as clubfoot, cleft lip, and cleft palate are not completely accurate.

For the current study, researchers compiled data on 10 million births over 16 years. Among this group, 226,806 babies were born with non-genetic birth defects. The study authors said that their study is nearly double the population size of the previous studies.

Of those born with non-genetic birth defects, 147 babies had been exposed to lamotrigine during the first trimester.

One in every 700 babies is born with cleft lip or cleft palate, and 1 in 1000 babies is born with clubfoot.

"We cannot exclude a small risk, but we estimate the excess risk of cleft lip or cleft palate among babies exposed to the drug to be less than one in every 550 babies. Since excess risks of cleft lip or palate have been reported for a variety of antiepileptic drugs, we recommend that for all mothers with epilepsy, whatever their drug exposure, special attention be given to examining the baby for cleft palate," said study author Helen Dolk, PhD. "We did not have specific information on lamotrigine dosage so additional study is recommended, especially of high doses."