Epilepsy Drug Topiramate May Increase Birth Defect Risk

New data suggest that the drug Topamax and its generic versions (topiramate) increase the risk for the birth defects cleft lip and cleft palate in babies born to women who use the medication during pregnancy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said today.

Before prescribing topiramate, approved to treat certain types of seizures in people who have epilepsy, health care professionals should warn patients of childbearing age about the potential hazard to the fetus if a woman becomes pregnant while using the drug.

Topiramate also is approved to prevent migraine headaches, but not to relieve the pain of migraines.

“Health care professionals should carefully consider the benefits and risks of topiramate when prescribing it to women of childbearing age,” said Russell Katz, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Alternative medications that have a lower risk of birth defects should be considered.”

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