Teratogenic effects of antiepileptic drugs

Lancet Neurol. 2012 Sep;11(9):803-13. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70103-5. Epub 2012 Jul 16.


Most women with active epilepsy need treatment with antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy. Antiepileptic drugs are also frequently used for other indications, such as migraine, pain syndromes, and psychiatric disorders, which are prevalent among women of childbearing age. Possible teratogenic effects of antiepileptic drugs are therefore of wide concern and the risks imposed by the drugs must be weighed against the risks associated with the disorder being treated. Adverse drug effects on the fetus can present as fetal loss, intrauterine growth retardation, congenital malformations, impaired postnatal development, and behavioural problems. For optimum use of antiepileptic drugs in women of childbearing age and rational management of epilepsy during pregnancy, a thorough understanding of the teratogenic effects of antiepileptic drugs and knowledge of the differences in risks between various treatment options are needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / etiology*
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / chemically induced*


  • Anticonvulsants