Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of major congenital malformations associated with antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment in pregnancy. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Using data from The Health Improvement Network, we identified women who have given live birth and their offspring. Four subgroups were selected based on the AED treatment in early pregnancy, valproate, carbamazepine, lamotrigine and women not receiving AED treatment. We compared the prevalence of major congenital malformations within children of these four groups and estimated prevalence ratios (PRs) using Poisson regression adjusted for maternal age, sex of child, quintiles of Townsend deprivation score and indication for treatment. RESULTS: In total, 240,071 women were included in the study. A total of 229 women were prescribed valproate in pregnancy, 357 were prescribed lamotrigine and 334 were prescribed carbamazepine and 239,151 women were not prescribed AEDs. Fifteen out of 229 (6.6%) women prescribed valproate gave birth to a child with a major congenital malformation. The figures for lamotrigine, carbamazepine and women not prescribed AEDs were 2.7%, 3.3% and 2.2%, respectively. The prevalence of major congenital malformation was similar for women prescribed lamotrigine or carbamazepine compared to women with no AED treatment in pregnancy. For women prescribed valproate in polytherapy, the prevalence was fourfold higher. After adjustments, the effect of estimates attenuated, but the prevalence remained two- to threefold higher in women prescribed valproate. CONCLUSION: The results of our study suggest that lamotrigine and carbamazepine are safer treatment options than valproate in pregnancy and should be considered as alternative treatment options for women of childbearing potential and in pregnancy.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Epidemiol

Publication Date





95 - 103


adverse drug effects, carbamazepine, lamotrigine, pregnancy, valproate