Anti-epileptic drugs can prevent migraines but may be dangerous to fetuses

Topamax Anti epileptic drugs can prevent migraines but may be dangerous to fetusesA daily dose of anti-seizure drugs, including Topamax and Depakote, can help prevent recurrent migraine headaches, according to new preventative guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers studied a once-daily dose of Topamax (topiramate) on patients who suffer from regular migraines and found that the medication decreased the frequency and often the severity of migraines by about 50 percent. The guidelines say that other preventative measures include certain beta-blockers, herbal products, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories including ibuprofen and naproxen.

Researchers speculate that the medications dampen the brain’s ability to generate the pain associated with the headache.

Treating frequent migraines is imperative, doctors say, because if left untreated, the headaches become more and more frequent until they are a daily hazard and thus, become more difficult to treat.

Patients should be advised that all medications, including over-the-counter ones, can carry side effects. Prescription prophylactic medications, such as Topamax and Depakote (valporic acid), can also be even more concerning to women of childbearing age. The drugs have been linked to birth defects if taken by the mother during pregnancy.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, evidence began to show that anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), which include Topamax and Depakote, were dangerous for developing fetuses. One study even suggested that Depakote use during pregnancy increased the chances by tenfold of a baby being born with spina bifida compared to other AEDs.

Another study showed more than 10 percent of babies exposed to Depakote in utero were born with major congenital defects.

Source: CBS Denver