This article is from the Epilepsy FAQ, by Andrew Patrick (firstname.lastname@example.org) with numerous contributions by others.
Women who use seizure-controlling drugs must be careful when it comes
to having children. There have been reported cases of birth defects for
these women. While the "normal" rate of birth defects is 2-3% , women
with epilepsy who are not taking medication have a slightly higher
(1/2%) risk of malformations. Women on a single medication have a risk
of about 6-7%, with some differences due to the particular medication
involved. Multiple drug combinations drastically increase the risk.
This creates a problem because the drugs may create risks for the baby,
but the need for anti-seizure drugs remains during pregnancy. Seizures
may even be more frequent during pregnancy, and harm both the baby and
A doctor may decide to change or reduce a woman's medication if she
plans to become pregnant. In some cases, however, the doctor may
recommend that the risks of pregnancy are too great for the mother and
child. Any changes in medication must be considered carefully, and a
woman should never adjust her own medication.
There are some special issues relating to maternal health during
pregnancy for women with Epilepsy, and this may require special
Finally, some seizure medications can lead to failures of oral birth