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Could my epilepsy medication have caused my childrens autism?

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Old 01-31-2007, 01:46 PM   #1
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Could my epilepsy medication have caused my childrens autism?

Hi, hope someone can help me, maybe put my mind at rest. I'm epileptic, have 2 children, daughter aged 6, son aged 8. Our son was diagnosed 2 years ago with mild autism, bordering between asbergers syndrome & autism, today I have been told by our daughters teacher that 3 teachers at her school suspect that she also has mild autism, 1 teacher is a special needs teacher, I'm really upset, will accept it like I did with our son but will take time, also will have to have tests to finalise it. Could my epilepsy medication have caused it or contributed towards it, when I was pregnant I was taking Keppra, Lamotrogine & Carbamazapine. I desperately hope its nothing to do with my medication but if anybody can help with HONEST answers, it would be very much appreciated. Thanks loads.x

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Old 01-31-2007, 03:34 PM   #2
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Re: Could my epilepsy medication have caused my childrens autism?

Anytime a decision is made to keep a pregnant woman on a chronic medication, their health care provider has first asked themselves who is MOST likely to be harmed? The mother by going OFF the medication or the baby by having mom stay ON the medication? Also, the health care provider doesn't usually make that decision totally on their own. Usually there will be communication between the obstetrician and the mom's neurologist before the decision is made, and often your pharmacist will also place a call to your neurologist to get a green light to continue dispensing the medications in question once your pharmacist learns of your pregnancy. So at a minimum, 2-3 health care professionals decided that the safest choice for you and your babies was for you to remain on your medications.

No one can tell you for sure if your medications had any role in your children's autism. Certainly most of us mothers here aren't epileptic, yet many of us have multiple children who are affected by autism. Due to ethical and legal reason, drugs are not tested in pregnant women so the only data we usually have regarding their effect on pregnant women is from post marketing case reports or from animal studies. Based on this information there is a rating system used to rate the "danger" factor of drugs to pregnant and lactating women. The rating system is as follows:

A = Adequate, well-controlled studies in pregnant women have not shown an increased risk of fetal abnormalities to the fetus in any trimester of pregnancy.

B = Animal studies have revealed no evidence of harm to the fetus, however, there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. OR Animal studies have shown an adverse effect, but adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in any trimester.

C = Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. OR No animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.

D = Adequate well-controlled or observational studies in pregnant women have demonstrated a risk to the fetus.
However, the benefits of therapy may outweigh the potential risk. For example, the drug may be acceptable if needed in a life-threatening situation or serious disease for which safer drugs cannot be used or are ineffective.

X = Adequate well-controlled or observational studies in animals or pregnant women have demonstrated positive evidence of fetal abnormalities or risks.
The use of the product is contraindicated in women who are or may become pregnant.
There are NO category "A" drugs (that I am aware of) because there are NO controlled studies performed on pregnant women as I mentioned earlier.

There are many category "B" drugs and usually most health care providers don't get too worried when a pregnant woman is on a category "B" drug.

Categories C and D are the greyer areas. Category X drugs are never given without serious consideration and consequences (the only example I can think of is life saving chemotherapy for the mother that can not wait until after the birth of the child and may even lead to the decision to terminate the pregnancy).

Of the 3 drugs you mentioned, Keppra and Lamotrigine are category "C" drugs, Carbamazepine is a category "D" drug. Lamotrigine and Carbamazepine are thought to deplete the body of Folate which can lead to neural tube defects like spina bifida. Keppra has shown some association with developmental disabilities in Animal studies (this does NOT mean it has the same effect in people!) Carbamazepine is the only category "D" drug you took and it is not associated with developmental disorders.

So what does all this boil down to for you? In my opinion you took vital medications that you needed during your pregnancies that without which you would have placed yourself at risk for serious medical consequences. While drugs taken by mom may pose some risk to the baby, uncontrolled seizures most certainly poses risk to both the baby and the mom! Oxygen levels can fall during a seizure and that can certainly harm a fetus, or an unexpected seizure while driving a car for example could threaten not just your own life, but the baby's life and possibly the lives of bystanders too.

As I said earlier, none of us mothers know for sure why our children have autism, and I'm sure most of us at some point have wondered if we did something to trigger the autism. Its a very human response to think that way. I hope I have given you some information that helps you to feel knowledgeable about the topic. And I hope I have also helped you to understand that you made the best choices to ensure the healthiest possible pregnancies.

Now, stop beating yourself up about things that are in the past and out of your control, and go give your kids a big hug and kiss. I believe my boys are the way they are because that is how God intended for them to be. And I believe the same about your children! Love them and appreciate them for the unique people they are! And never, ever wonder again if you are in any way responsible for their special needs. Your only responsibility is to love them and see to it that their special needs are met to the best of your abilities.

I wish you and your family the very best!
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Old 02-01-2007, 12:52 AM   #3
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Re: Could my epilepsy medication have caused my childrens autism?

first this needs tobe said as lowd and often as possible;

most people with AS do NOT consider it a disability.
infact most enjoy their quarks, and are perfectly happy people.

theres no reason to be upset about it, if they arnet, why are their familly members? my familly is full of autism. we Love our weirdness.

to be honest, it likley not related to your meds,
its atcually probably directly related to the fact that you Are epileptic, sense 3/4 autsitic kids have seizures. pure genetics.

thats nothing to be upset over either, you are who your are and your kids are YOUR kids, they got Good things form you too and they will always love you, i mean youd never wish they werent born im sure, if they werent autistic they wouldnt be who they are right now, wishing they werent autistic is like wishing you had different children

that probably came out wrong but my point is.. its genetic, and its being debated whether or not its part of human adaptation to technology

either way, its not your fault and you cant prevent it. on top of that they may grow to find autism can lead to special skills NT people dont have, like advanced tech skills, hightened abilities in archatecture or art, etc.
Please excuse any gramatical/spelling errors, I have a verbal disability.

Last edited by iyami; 02-01-2007 at 12:55 AM.

Old 02-01-2007, 01:26 AM   #4
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Re: Could my epilepsy medication have caused my childrens autism?

I agree, my kids are very special to me, it probable came out wrong when I said upset, mean more shocked because it was the last thing I expected as she is nothing like her brother, my kids are the world to me, mean more than ANYTHING, I don't class it as a disability, if my sons naughty people sometimes say maybe its because of his autism, I don't like to say that as its as if they are saying thats all he is, Matthews autistic, yes, he gets help at school with it, if people saw him in the street they wouldn't know as he is very mild, borderline with asbergers, I think when she finishes with the tests & I get the final result then I will be able to accept it, but just wanted to know if it could have been my tablets in any way. Thanks to both of you for your advice, it helps a lot, please don't think that I am saying autistic children are different to others in a bad way, they are different in a special way, extremely special way. Matthew is ahead in his class, 8yrs old but has the ability & brain of a 10yr old, doing brilliantly, she is going the same way, we are both very very very proud of them both. Thanks again.xx

Old 02-01-2007, 07:03 AM   #5
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Re: Could my epilepsy medication have caused my childrens autism?

I worry about this a lot, as I have a mild seizure disorder and take Dilantin. Fortunately, my seizures are completely under control with medication. I worry about harming a child.

Leanne, thanks for your post. It had a lot of great information.

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