Epilepsy patients can ‘safely’ breastfeed their child

Women can safely breastfeed their child while taking certain anti-epilepsy drugs, according to new research.

A study conducted by researchers at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta has shown that children whose mothers took epilepsy drugs while breastfeeding did not suffer any cognitive problems by the age of three.

"Our results showed no difference in IQ scores between the children who were breastfed and those who were not," said Kimford Meador, study author and professor of neurology at the institution.

"This is very good news for the many women who must take medication to avoid dangerous seizures and are worried about the possible risks of the drugs on their child if they breastfeed versus the many known benefits that come with breastfeeding their babies."

The study tracked 194 pregnant women each taking one epilepsy drug – either carbamazepine, lamotrigine, phenytoin or valproate.

The participants gave birth to a total of 199 babies, with 42 per cent of these breast-fed. Each child took an IQ test at the age of three, with breast-fed children scoring an average of 99, while those who were given formula scored 98.

The new study was published in the online journal Neurology. 

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