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Pregnancy Topics..

You are here : home > Pregnancy > Medical Aspects of Pregnancy > Anti-psychotics, anti-convulsants (for Epilepsy)

Anti-psychotics, anti-convulsants (for Epilepsy)

Epilepsy is a disorder that takes long to recover. The antiepileptic drug treatment is often long term and in some cases it is lifelong also. Considering these facts anxiousness of women suffering from epilepsy about possibility and side effects of the medicines taken during pregnancy is obvious. The potential impact of the anticonvulsants given for epilepsy during pregnancy on mother and child should be known to the parents.

These drugs control excitement, agitation and other psychomotor disturbances in schizophrenic patients and reduce the manic phase of manic-depressive conditions. It is used to control hyper-kinetic states of aggression. The psychotropic action of these anticonvulsive and antiepileptic agents helps the patient to become more sociable for easy integration in the society. It prevents paroxysmal attacks of pain in idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia.

Effects of Anticonvulsants for Epilepsy during Pregnancy

The risk of the mother with epilepsy giving birth to a baby with the abnormality is about three times that of the normal population.  Some of this risk is due to the anticonvulsant drugs taken.  Mothers taking more than one anticonvulsant drug might have a higher risk of having a baby with a malformation than mothers taking one drug.

Women taking these drugs who become pregnant should consider routine and amniocentesis for prenatal diagnosis of such abnormalities.  Overall, the risk of having an abnormal child is far outweighed by the dangers to the mother and foetus of uncontrolled convulsions. Therefore, anticonvulsants should be avoided during pregnancy. Have a quick look at the effects of anticonvulsants on pregnancy.
  • The child might suffer from congenial malfunctions. The bad news is that it cannot be predicted or prevented.
  • The risk increases if the woman takes more than one medicine or the medicine is valproic acid or valproate.
  • Some medications affect the child’s development.
  • Some malfunctions like cleft lip or cleft palate can be corrected surgically. Other problems may arise with urinary, heart or genital systems.
  • Congenial malfunction can also be due to genetic factors. So, if previous pregnancy has the same history or there is any family history of congenial malfunction, it is advisable to go for genetic counselling.

Effects of Antipsychotic Drugs

Let us take a look at some of the antipsychotic drugs and their effects of pregnancy. 


Phenothiazines, when taken in high doses during late pregnancy could cause neurological disturbances in the child.

Other Antipsychotic Drugs

Other antipsychotic drugs like lithium salts could enter the foetal circulation and cause disturbance of thyroid function of the newborn infant and malformations of the cardiovascular system.

Products: Chlorpromazine
For Children: Should not be used below six months
For Pregnant Women: Contra-indicated
For Breastfeeding Mothers: Not recommended
Contra-indications*: In chronic respiratory disease
Caution: Avoid skin drug contact

Schizophrenia or epilepsy can occur in any class of society. Any kind of psychiatric disorders are treated by anti-psychotic drugs. Even though these drugs have direct and indirect impact on the new-borns, abruptly stopping these medicines can cause significant implications for treatment. The peak age of schizophrenia is 25 to 35 years and these are the peak age of childbearing also. Studies show that women with psychotic disorders have more unplanned pregnancies than their healthy counterparts.

Although, no concrete evidence is there to prove that antipsychotic drugs have negative impact on pregnancy or the foetus, there are some cases in which prematurity, low and high birth weight and gestational diabetes was recorded. Withdrawal symptoms in new born and abnormal muscle movements are also some of the effects seen.

Majority of the women suffering from epilepsy have reduced fertility. They have problem conceiving as well as delivering a healthy child. The anticonvulsants prescribed and taken due to epilepsy is also one of the reasons of producing reproductive and endocrinal disturbances. The problem of fertility in women suffering from epilepsy is complex and depends on many factors.

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