Management of epilepsy during pregnancy

Expert Rev Neurother. 2015 Oct;15(10):1171-87. doi: 10.1586/14737175.2015.1083422. Epub 2015 Sep 1.


Over a million women with epilepsy are of childbearing age in the USA and require careful consideration of not only type of antiepileptic drug (AED) but also dosage, in the event of a planned or unplanned pregnancy. Careful selection of AEDs can lower the potential adverse effects of AEDs while maintaining seizure control for the health of not only on the patient, the mother, but also the unborn fetus. The number of treatment options has increased significantly in the last 20 years and remarkable progress has been made in characterizing the risks AEDs pose to pregnant women and fetuses. There are now robust data on teratogenesis, a growing body of data on neonatal/obstetrical outcomes and on neurodevelopmental problems associated with each AED, and some data about seizure control during pregnancy. Based on clinical evidence so far, levetiracetam and lamotrigine have emerged as the safest during pregnancy, although others may also be suitable. Despite being a common belief, not all polytherapy combinations may be detrimental, especially when avoiding valproate and topiramate. Here, we review the available clinical research, highlighting recent findings and provide thoughts for future directions in the field.

Keywords: antiepileptic drugs; epilepsy; major congenital malformations; neonatal complications; neurodevelopmental outcome; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage*
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology


  • Anticonvulsants