Pregabalin in Pregnancy Linked to Increased Risk of Birth Defects

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Pregabalin in Pregnancy Linked to Increased Risk of Birth Defects
Pregabalin in Pregnancy Linked to Increased Risk of Birth Defects

THURSDAY, May 19, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- The widely prescribed drug pregabalin (Lyrica) may slightly increase the risk for birth defects, according to a study published online May 18 in Neurology.

The study included 164 women who took pregabalin during their first trimester of pregnancy. Researchers compared these women to a group of 656 pregnant women who didn't take the drug. Among the women taking pregabalin, 115 used it to treat neuropathic pain; 39 took it for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or psychosis; five were taking it for epilepsy; and one for restless legs syndrome.

Most of the women taking pregabalin started taking it before they became pregnant but stopped taking the drug an average of six weeks into their pregnancy, the researchers said. Twenty-two of these women were also taking another anti-seizure drug. Birth defects linked to pregabalin included cardiac defects and structural anomalies in the central nervous system or other organs. Women taking pregabalin were six times more likely to have a baby with a major defect in the central nervous system than women not taking the drug.

"These results should be taken with caution," senior author Thierry Buclin, M.D., from the Swiss Teratogen Information Service and the division of clinical pharmacology at the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland, told HealthDay. "It's a warning, but it cannot be taken as a certainty."

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