Women with epilepsy who are taking pregabalin are warned that the medication could increase risk of physical harm for a baby during pregnancy and are advised to consult their doctor. It is important never to stop taking your medication without seeking medical advice first.
New advice has been published about risks linked to the epilepsy medication, pregabalin, when taken during pregnancy.
Pregabalin is also known by the brand names Lyrica, Alzain, Axalid and Lecaent.
Studies have shown that taking pregabalin during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of having a baby born with physical birth abnormalities.
Risks in general population
In the UK it is estimated that two or three babies in every 100 are born with a physical abnormality.
The risk can be raised by some medical conditions and by certain medications taken during pregnancy.
Risks identified by European study
The MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) has reviewed results from a new study of pregabalin from four European countries. The study showed that six babies out of every 100 born to women who took pregabalin in the first three months of pregnancy, were born with physical birth abnormalities. This is compared with four in 100 babies born to mothers who were not taking pregabalin or any other epilepsy medication in early pregnancy.
The study showed that the risk around pregabalin was higher than for the epilepsy medication, lamotrigine. Both lamotrigine and levetiracetam are thought to be the safest epilepsy medications to take during pregnancy.
The study could not prove that pregabalin was the cause of the physical disabilities.
Advice for women
It is important that any woman of childbearing age who is taking pregabalin, should seek the advice of her healthcare specialist. They will be able to discuss different treatment options and the use of effective contraceptives while taking pregabalin.
If you are planning to have a baby, you should discuss your treatment options with your healthcare professional before stopping contraception.
You should never stop taking your epilepsy medication without medical advice as this could result in more seizures which could, if you are pregnant, cause harm to your baby.
To read more and to access the patient information leaflet please click here.
If you have concerns and would like to talk to someone about your epilepsy, please call our Helpline on 01494 601400 (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm, Wed 9am-7.30pm).
Soure Epilepsy Action