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Is my medicine for epilepsy safe for planning a pregnancy?

Q: I am 31 years old and a mother of one child. 10 months ago I was very tense as we were shifting our house. While I was travelling in the car I experienced a seizure. Then I went to a neurologist. After EEG tests he suggested me a drug - Zen retard 200 mg, in the morning and Zen retard 400 mg, in the night. After this I have not experienced any such attacks and I am free from all the problems. My doctor is asking me to be on medication for one year and then to check for discontinuance of the medication. With the above will I get any side effects? Can we plan for a second child? Is there any chances of the baby affected by this problem?

A:I am in agreement with your doctor with regard to using an anti-epileptic agent for about a year; then discontinue and see the result. In all probability you will not need to continue. Since you started medication 10 months ago, a year is about to end. Carbamazepine is not to be taken by pregnant women because it can have very serious adverse effects on the baby called Neural Tube Defect. Therefore you can plan another pregnancy only when you have discontinued the medication. There are no adverse effects once you have stopped taking the drug. Zen Ret is a brand name that contains a medicine called Carbamazepine. Due to the availability of a large number of substandard drugs in the market, one should always take brands from reputed manufacturers. Carbamazepine is the research molecule of Novartis that sells this drug under the brand name of Tegrital. The cost of Tegrital CR 200mg is same as those of other brands.

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