It is challenging to balance the fetal risks associated with the use of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) against maternal and fetal risks of seizure worsening and therefore it is very important to define and distinguish the possible risks entailed by different AEDs. This paper aims to undertake a comprehensive review regarding the possible risks of four classical (phenytoin, carbamazepine, phenobarbital and valproate) and two newer (lamotrigine and levetiracetam) AEDs during pregnancy. The review focuses on major and organ-specific malformations, dose-dependent risks, mono vs polytherapy, and clinical pharmacokinetics. A discussion regarding the safety of AED use during breastfeeding is also provided.
Keywords: pregnancy, breastfeeding, antiepileptics, major malformations, phenytoin, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, valproate, lamotrigine, levetiracetam
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