May 5, 2020

A First Step towards Understanding Anti-Epileptic Medications with Birth Defects

A study, led by Associate Professor Piero Perucca from Monash University’s Department of Neuroscience, is the first to investigate whether antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) taken during pregnancy can increase new mutations in a baby’s genes, which were previously thought to be related to birth defects associated with the drugs.

A ‘new mutation’ is a genetic change seen for the first time in one family member. This change might have occurred in a germ cell (egg or sperm) of one of the parents, or it may have arisen in the fertilized egg during the development of the embryo.

The study, recently published in the prestigious journal Annals of Neurology, found that AEDs taken during pregnancy do not increase the number of de novo variants in the baby, irrespective of whether the baby had birth defects or not, indicating that AEDs were not a major contributor.

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