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Neurontin Birth Defects 

Any time a pregnant woman has a condition which requires treatment with prescription drugs, it is necessary to weigh the benefit of those drugs against any possible risks they may pose to her or to her unborn child. One such condition is epilepsy, which causes seizures which could harm both mother and child. Unfortunately, a number of epilepsy drugs have been associated with a heightened risk of congenital birth defects when used by a pregnant woman. One such drug is Neurontin, which has been linked to serious and potentially fatal birth defects and developmental defects when used during pregnancy.

Can Neurontin cause Birth Defects?

Neurontin (gabapentin) is one of a newer generation of epilepsy drugs which are still being researched by the Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry and the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, among other organizations. The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center states the links between Neurontin and birth defects "have not been adequately studied."

An article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians in 2002 stated, "The newer generation of antiepileptic drugs is not teratogenic (known to cause birth defects) in animals, but there is not sufficient reporting in human pregnancy experience to accurately portray risk." However, the author of this article went on to cite a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2001 in which researchers found that, while epilepsy in a mother was formerly believed to raise the chances of her baby being born with a birth defect, it is more likely that the mother's use of antiepileptic medications like Neurontin is the cause of any congenital defects. These researchers went on to point out that women using these drugs to treat conditions other than epilepsy are also at a higher risk for giving birth to a baby with a birth defect.

Despite a lack of sufficient research to establish how likely Neurontin is to cause birth defects, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) recommends that women using Neurontin or another anti-seizure medication during pregnancy undergo certain prenatal diagnostic testing for some birth defects. These include a serum alpha-fetoprotein test and an anatomic ultrasound to detect any neural tube defects such as spina bifida. The organization also recommends that these women take Vitamin K during the final month of their pregnancy to "help reduce the risk of neonatal hemorrhage."

Birth Defects linked to Neurontin

While the true likelihood of birth defects in babies whose mothers use Neurontin during pregnancy is still unknown, experts have linked Neurontin use by expecting mothers to a higher incidence of developmental delays in children as well as the following serious congenital birth defects:

  • Reproductive system defects
  • Heart defects including ventricular septal defects
  • Nervous system defects
  • Cleft lip and cleft palate
  • Gastrointestinal system defects
  • Hypertelorism
  • Epicanthal folds
  • Broad nasal bridge
  • Elongated philtrum
  • Distal digital
  • Nail bed hypoplasia

Neurontin Birth Defect Consultations

An article appearing in the Los Angeles Times in 2011 highlighted the dangerous balance women with epilepsy must seek while treating their condition during pregnancy by stating, "managing a pregnancy in an epileptic woman has generally involved walking a fine line between controlling seizures and reducing developmental problems." Unfortunately, many women who gave birth to children with defects after taking Neurontin believe that they were not properly warned about the link between Neurontin and birth defects, and state that they may have chosen different treatment options had they known of these risks. If you believe your child's birth defect may be related to the Neurontin you used during pregnancy, you could be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and other damages. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for a free Neurontin birth defect lawsuit consultation.

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