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Brain medicine threat to babies

Monday November 24th, 2014

Women who have to take a particular epilepsy drug should be advised not to get pregnant, according to new European guidance.

The drug valproate poses a high risk of babies being born with malformations and developmental problems when taken during pregnancy, according to the European Medicines Agency.

The drug is also prescribed for bipolar disorder and in some countries is used for migraine.

The new guidance says the drug should not be given for migraine to women unless they are on effective contraception.

According to the agency, up to 40% of infants exposed to the drug in the womb have shown developmental problems.

The children are also thought to face an increased risk of developing autism - and possibly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

A statement said: "Doctors in the EU are now advised not to prescribe valproate for epilepsy or bipolar disorder in pregnant women, in women who can become pregnant or in girls unless other treatments are ineffective or not tolerated.

"Those for whom valproate is the only option for epilepsy or bipolar disorder should be advised on the use of effective contraception and treatment should be started and supervised by a doctor experienced in treating these conditions.

"Women and girls who have been prescribed valproate should not stop taking their medicines without consulting their doctor as doing so could result in harm to themselves or to an unborn child."

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Europe | Pharmaceuticals | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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