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The rationale for pregnancy registers for women with epilepsy

Frank J E Vajda, Terence J O’Brien, Cecilie M Lander and Mervyn J Eadie
Med J Aust 2011; 195 (1): 8-9.
Published online: 4 July 2011

Promising outcomes from the Australian register include a fall in fetal malformation rates associated with changes in antiepileptic drug prescribing

The burden of epilepsy for those with the disorder is significant. For women of childbearing age, the uncertainty surrounding their ability to bear children who are free of the disorder, without birth defects, and cognitively and psychologically normal adds to this burden. Although factors other than medication exposure influence these questions, there is no doubt that antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) used to prevent seizures, such as valproate, have a significant, and possibly preventable, role in teratogenicity.1 Pregnancy registers are now showing promising results in elucidating this role and influencing changes in practice for the benefit of women with epilepsy and their children.

  • Frank J E Vajda1
  • Terence J O’Brien1
  • Cecilie M Lander2
  • Mervyn J Eadie3

  • 1 Royal Melbourne Hospital and University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 3 Central Clinical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD.

Correspondence: vajda@netspace.net.au

Acknowledgements: 

We acknowledge the support of our medical and non-medical colleagues for referring patients to, and increasing awareness of, the Australian Pregnancy Register. We thank the scientific advisory board and the human research ethics committees of St Vincent’s Hospital, Monash Medical Centre, Royal Melbourne Hospital and other institutions. The Register is indebted for support to the Royal Melbourne Hospital Neuroscience Foundation, Epilepsy Society of Australia, Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria, and Epilepsy Australia and for generous financial support from the pharmaceutical industry, including sanofi-aventis, UCB Pharma, Janssen-Cilag, Novartis and Pfizer, and earlier support from Glaxo.

Competing interests:

Cecilie Lander has been paid by multiple companies to give lectures.

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