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    Old 12-02-2005, 01:02 PM   #1
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    Epilepsy & Pregnancy (Depakote-Good or Bad)?

    I'm currently taking Depakote ER 250mg tablets, 1-twice a day. I've been on Depakote for over 7 years now. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy when I was 19. I'm now 26. My husband and I are planning for our first child. We were told to plan 3 months in advance so that's what we are doing. I have been taking 4 mg of Folic Acid for the past year now and have just started a Prenatal vitamin called Duet DHA. Have any of you women out there had children while taking Depakote? If so, did you have any problems? Did the baby have any problems? Were you taking Folic Acid and getting the proper care you needed during the pregnancy? Were you on one AED or several to control your seizures? What's your opinion about taking this drug during pregnancy? I could really use some more insight. I've been reading all sorts of pro's and con's about this drug and am having a hard time choosing whether I want to switch meds again. I tried switching to Lamictal last year without success. Depakote seems to work best for me. Can you offer me any other suggestions? I would love to hear from someone, ASAP, my family planning is in question with this drug. Thank you.

    Last edited by melmo524; 12-02-2005 at 01:04 PM. Reason: change in title

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    Old 12-27-2005, 02:23 PM   #2
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    Re: Epilepsy & Pregnancy (Depakote-Good or Bad)?

    My story may not contain type of inspiration you're looking for, but I hope it helps....

    I switched to depakote in 1993, after I'd been married only one year. We started exploring our options for getting pregnant in 1998. There's not much data now in terms of taking depakote during pregnancy, and there was even less data then. To prepare, I first saw my neurologist. He and I decided that the best option would be for me to stay on depakote, as it's kept me seizure-free. Switching meds would be riskier, since having a seizure while pregnant is actually more traumatic to the fetus (due to oxygen deprivation) than any side effect of any drug. I just upped my intake of folic acid to 4 mg/day.

    My husband and I also saw a high-risk pregancy ob/gyn to discuss the risks and options. If I recall, the chances were about 3 in 100 that the child would be born with some defect--most likely spina bifida. The general population has a risk factor of about 3 in 1000. We then decided to wait awhile to see if the statistics improved any. We visited a fertility specialist in 2003, who assured us that the risks were "statistically insignificant" but not significantly better than five years earlier. But were the risks insignificant to us? Presented with the facts, we had to translate these into feelings. It wasn't just our lives we were dealing with; it was the life of a little person we didn't even know.

    I would never claim to know what's best for another couple, or place more value on one baby's life over another. We all have a place in God's plan. But this process should compel you to be completely honest with yourself and your partner. My husband and I asked ourselves these questions many times: Could we cope emotionally with raising a severely disabled child? Could we cope with the guilt of bringing a severely disabled child into the world, even though we had full and advance knowledge of the risks involved? Say what you will about us, but we came to the heartbreaking realization that our answer to both questions was NO. God bless those who can and do embark upon this journey willingly, but we knew we could not.

    With this revelation, we decided to pursue adoption. This path also presented many challenges, but what a blessing it has been! We're now the parents of a healthy, delightful one-year-old girl. I can't imagine a biological daughter being any more "mine" than she.

    When we listen to our hearts, I think we're listening to God's voice. My prayer for you is that whatever decision you make brings you perfect peace and abundant joy.

    Old 01-03-2006, 09:03 AM   #3
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    Re: Epilepsy & Pregnancy (Depakote-Good or Bad)?

    Hi Melmo

    I'm sure you've heard this all before, but it's important for anyone with epilepsy to find the best drug plan for them. It is particularly important to women of child-bearing age. I was diagnosed with JME when I was 17 (7 years ago) and the main reasons Lamotrigine (Lamictal) was my doctor's first drug of choice was it had proven to be successful for many people with my type of epilepsy, and has not yet had bad reports concerning pregnancy. It is a relatively "young" drug when compared with depakote, so information on side-effects is more scarce than older drugs such as depakote. It is difficult to achieve reliable information for side-effects like these. In Britain 1 out of 200 people have recurrent seizures, and as there many choices of anti-convulsant medications, the number of people on one particular drug decreases even more. Statistically only half of these people are female (although due to certain side-effects connected to different drugs, different sexes tend toward different drugs). Not all women become pregnant whilst on any particular drug, so basically information is difficult to obtain, whether it be depakote or any other drug. It's just that there's more information available about depakote than newer drugs. (Sigh - sorry about the long-winded explaination there, well done if you managed to get through it)! So in short, studies on depakote suggest that there is an increased chance of various defects to a child born to a mother on depakote, among these are spina bifida, learning disabilities and facial defects. If you decide to alter your medication plan (it's something worth thinking about - there are loads of medications suitable for JME) make sure you a) talk it over with your doctor and b) hold off becoming pregnant until you are FULLY switched on to your new medication plan - I second Reedbrook's comment here on the dangers of seizures when pregnant. I also believe that adoption is worth thinking about - I'm thinking about going down that route (I've been on half of the drugs available and none have yet controlled my seizures), but you need to be certain it would work for you and your partner. But remember, most women on anti-convulsant medications have perfectly healthy babies.

    Good luck, whatever route you choose.

    Old 01-14-2006, 04:01 PM   #4
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    Wink Re: Epilepsy & Pregnancy (Depakote-Good or Bad)?

    Thank you very much Eilidh1 and Reedbrook for your input. I really appreciate it! My husband and I have decided to try for our own child. We've met with some epileptologists, my ob/gyn, and neurologist to start the planning process. I'm currently on a prenatal vitamin and of course my 4mg of Folic Acid. It's been about 1 1/2 months so far since we've been in this carefully planned out preconception process so I have 1 1/2 more months to go before we actively start trying. I will let you know how things go. Thank you very much for your input.


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