Martha Morrell

Publication Details

  • Reproductive and metabolic disorders in women with epilepsy EPILEPSIA Morrell, M. J. 2003; 44: 11-20


    Epilepsy is a common neurologic disorder affecting women during the reproductive years. Seizures and some antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) can compromise reproductive health, and some AEDs can adversely affect carbohydrate and bone metabolism. Women with epilepsy have lower birth rates and more frequent anovulatory menstrual cycles. This appears to be related to seizure- and AED-associated reproductive endocrine disturbances. Carbamazepine (CBZ), phenytoin (PHT), and phenobarbital (PB) induce hepatic cytochrome P450 enzymes and lower endogenous estrogens, adrenal and ovarian androgens, and contraceptive steroids. Valproate (VPA) inhibits steroid hormone metabolism, elevates androgens, and predisposes to phenotypic signs of hyperandrogenism-hirsutism, obesity, acne, and frequent anovulatory cycles. VPA is associated with weight gain, probably by altering insulin metabolism. CBZ, PHT, and VPA, but not lamotrigine (LTG), are associated with lower levels of calcium. PHT, but not VPA or LTG, appears to accelerate bone turnover. AED effects on bone mineral metabolism may explain the elevated risk of fracture described in women with epilepsy. Prospective pregnancy registries are beginning to provide information about AED-associated teratogenesis. The North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry reports a 12% rate of major malformations after first trimester exposure to PB and an 8.6% rate after first trimester exposure to VPA. A prospective LTG-specific registry reports a 1.8% chance of major malformations after the first trimester. The registries will continue to release information as data become significant. In the meantime, practitioners can be alert to signs and symptoms of reproductive or metabolic health disturbances and participate in pregnancy registry efforts.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000184150600003

    View details for PubMedID 12823565

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