Multi-institutional study on the teratogenicity and fetal toxicity of antiepileptic drugs: a report of a collaborative study group in Japan

Epilepsia. 1980 Dec;21(6):663-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1980.tb04320.x.


A multi-institutional collaborative study was conducted concerning the course of pregnancy and delivery and the incidence of abnormal infants delivered of epileptic women. Of 657 women receiving antiepileptic drugs, 73% delivered live infants, 14% had miscarriage or stillbirth, and 13% underwent induced abortion. In contrast to the above findings, 80% of 162 patients not receiving antiepileptic drugs delivered live infants and 4% had miscarriage or stillbirth. The latter outcome was significantly increased in the medicated patients. In this series, 63 (9.9%) of 638 live births were malformed, 55 (11.5%) being from medicated mothers and 3 (2.3%) from nonmedicated mothers. The incidence of fetal malformation in medicated mothers was thus five times as high as that in nonmedicated mothers. Cleft lip and/or palate and malformations involving the cardiovascular system were found frequently in the infants from medicated mothers. General background factors that might exert teratogenic effects on pregnant patients with epilepsy were studied, and the potential toxicity of antiepileptic drugs to the fetus was also analyzed. In this regard, consideration should be given to whether the patient has partial epileptic seizures, whether the patient herself exhibits any malformation, or whether her previous pregnancy resulted in an abnormal outcome. The incidence of fetal malformation was the highest (12.7%) in the medicated patients who had epileptic seizures during the pregnancy. It is presumed on the basis of the results of analysis of the data that a combination of more than three drugs and a daily dose greater than a certain minimal level is likely to produce malformed infants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / etiology*
  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Japan
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Risk


  • Anticonvulsants