Tegretol and Pregnancy
In studies on Tegretol and pregnancy, the medication was shown to increase the risk of birth defects, including spina bifida, head or facial deformities, and heart defects. As a result, the FDA has classified it as a pregnancy Category D medication. However, if you are taking Tegretol and pregnancy occurs, your healthcare provider may have you continue it if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Is Tegretol Safe During Pregnancy?Tegretol® (carbamazepine) may not be safe for women who are pregnant. In animal and human studies that looked at the effects of Tegretol during pregnancy, the drug caused birth defects and other problems.
Tegretol and Pregnancy Category DThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category D is a classification given to medicines that have been shown to present a risk to the fetus in studies of pregnant women, but may still offer benefits that outweigh the risks the drug presents.
Studies involving women suggest that Tegretol use during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects, including spina bifida, head or facial deformities, and heart defects. Animal studies also show these risks. There have also been reports of seizures, breathing problems, vomiting, and diarrhea in newborns whose mothers were taking Tegretol during pregnancy.
However, uncontrolled epilepsy can be dangerous to both a pregnant woman and the fetus. You and your healthcare provider must discuss the specific benefits and risks of using Tegretol during pregnancy in your particular situation. If your epilepsy is mild (or if you have not had a seizure in several years), you may consider stopping Tegretol. However, if your epilepsy is severe or difficult to control, it may be best for you to stay on the medication. No matter what, do not stop taking Tegretol suddenly (see Tegretol Withdrawal).
If you and your healthcare provider decide that it is best for you to continue taking Tegretol, you may need frequent blood tests to measure your levels. Pregnancy can affect the way your body handles Tegretol, and it is important to keep your dose at the lowest effective level to help protect your fetus. Also, it is best if you can take just one seizure medication rather than multiple seizure medications. Your healthcare provider may suggest a higher-than-usual dose of folic acid, as this may also help protect the fetus.