Should Women on Seizure Medications Breastfeed Their Babies?

Kimford J. Meador, MD Professor Department of Neurology & Neurological Sciences Stanford Comprehensive Epilepsy Center Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, CA 94305-5235.MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Kimford J. Meador, MD
Professor
Department of Neurology & Neurological Sciences
Stanford Comprehensive Epilepsy Center
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, CA 94305-5235.

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Meador: Breastfeeding while taking antiepileptic drugs does not appear to pose a risk to the child’s development, and in fact the cognitive outcomes were better for those children who were breastfed vs. those were not.

MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Meador: Children who were breastfed while their mothers took antiepileptic drugs actually had higher IQs at age 6 years. At age 3 years, they did not differ, but now at age 6 were the IQ testing is more reliable, we found higher IQ. Similar effects of breastfeeding have been found in general population.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Meador: There is substantial data from the general population showing multiple positive effects for breastfeeding on both the child and mother. There has been a theoretical concern that breastfeeding when taking antiepileptic drugs could adversely affect the child cognitive development. Our study and another study have not shown any adverse effects in children who had already been exposed to antiepileptic drugs in utero.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Meador: I recommend that women who have been taking antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy and continue the drug in the postpartum should breastfeed if they so desire.

Citation:

Meador KJ. Breastfeeding and Antiepileptic Drugs. JAMA. 2014;311(17):1797-1798. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.967.

 

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