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Epilepsy Health Center

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Epilepsy Drugs, Breastfeeding: Safe for Kids?

Study Shows No Negative Effects on IQ of Kids Whose Moms Take Epilepsy Drugs While Breastfeeding

Analyzing Risks continued...

Of the breastfeeding study results, Meador says: ''It's good news. It's the first study that actually looked at the effect of breastfeeding when women are taking anti-epilepsy drugs and we do not see any evidence or sign there are adverse effects on the child's IQ at 3 years of age."

Like other experts, he recommends women of childbearing age avoid valproic acid if possible. But, he says, there is a population of women with epilepsy whose disease is best controlled by valproic acid.

Meador reports receiving research grants from GlaxoSmithKline and Eisai Pharmaceuticals, which make epilepsy drugs, and other companies.

Second Opinion

The new study results should provide reassurance for women with epilepsy who wish to breastfeed, says Autumn Klein, MD, PhD, director of the Program in Women's Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and instructor in neurology, Harvard Medical School, Boston. She wrote an editorial to accompany the study.

''After delivery, the child is getting a lot less [drug exposure] than they got in utero," she says.

Women typically ask her about which drug might be better during breastfeeding. There isn't yet enough data to comment on that, she says, as the numbers of women in this study taking each drug were too low to tease out a difference.

She does agree that women should avoid valproate if possible.

Klein is the recipient of research support from the Epilepsy Foundation of America.

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