Assessment of teratogenic risk

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Although the association between prenatal exposure to old generation antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) and major congenital malformations has been studied for many years, it is not clear whether any specific AED, or AED combination, is more harmful than others, or whether any pattern of malformations can be considered specific for any given drug. Relationships between dosage and plasma concentrations of AEDs and the risk of malformations also need to be clarified. The greatest limitation of all studies performed to date is the fact that none included a sufficiently large number of pregnancies. For newer generation AEDs the teratogenic risk, if any, is unknown. Large prospective studies are needed. The best approach is the establishment of registries through international collaboration. Inclusion of non-epileptic controls and untreated women is not strictly necessary to evaluate the comparative teratogenic risk of AEDs. The modalities of data collection should be pre-defined; common protocols, sufficiently exhaustive but at the same time easy to perform, should be shared from the beginning. Information on the presence or absence of major malformations or prenatal growth retardation, and on all major factors that may affect the teratogenic endpoints should be obtained. Study designs should ensure high quality data recording, and adequate quality assurance and auditing procedures. Further requisites are a clear definition of congenital malformation and prolonged follow-up to detect the occurrence of congenital malformations not detected at birth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-173
Number of pages3
JournalEpilepsy Research
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Congenital malformations
  • Pregnancy
  • Teratogenesis
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology


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