December 14, 2023

Expert Panel Provides Updated Data for Epilepsy and Pregnancy

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The Epilepsy & Pregnancy Medical Consortium, an expert panel of leading epileptologists and OB-GYN researchers/practitioners, announced updated best practice recommendations for people with epilepsy who are considering pregnancy, are pregnant, or are postpartum. These best practices are based on the findings of the groundbreaking study Maternal Outcomes and Neurodevelopment Effects of Antiepileptic Drugs (MONEAD) and its predecessor study Fetal Antiepileptic Drug Exposure and Cognitive Outcomes at Age 6 Years (NEAD study). MONEAD followed 565 women, including pregnant women with epilepsy, non-pregnant women with epilepsy, and pregnant women without epilepsy to explore the impact of various anti-seizure medications on seizure frequency, maternal outcomes, breastfeeding, and child outcomes (such as verbal and intellectual abilities) through six years of age. Based on the results, the MONEAD study asserts that with proper planning and therapeutic monitoring of pregnancy-suitable anti-seizure medication people with epilepsy can have safe, healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. The data also show that neurodevelopmental outcomes at age six were better in children exposed to anti-seizure medications in utero who were breastfed compared to those who were not breastfed. “It’s important that when it is time to have children we have everything in place, and then we have a planned pregnancy,” said Dr. Pennell, M.D., F.A.E.S., Department Chair of Neurology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-investigator of the MONEAD study. We emphasize that for most anti-seizure drugs, we have strong evidence that there is a low risk of breastfeeding.”