Mothers should continue to breastfeed despite being on epilepsy medication - new study finds

A new study undertaken by a number of institutions in the United States and recently published in the journal, JAMA Neurology , has recommended that mothers with epilepsy continue to breastfeed as normal despite being on epilepsy medication.

The research was compiled over a 5-year period at 20 sites and looked at 351 mothers at a maximum age of 45 and their 345 infant children, who were followed up until six years of age. The research sought to establish whether there were any identifiable detrimental effects experienced in children whose mothers were breastfeeding while taking epilepsy medication. Seven different AEDs were studied.

We are aware that taking epilepsy medication and breastfeeding can be a point of concern for new mothers with epilepsy however, the research compiled as part of this study found that concentration of epilepsy medication in blood samples from infants who were breastfed was substantially lower than that of their mothers.

When the study coupled this with previous studies, it supports the recommendations that mothers with epilepsy continue to breastfeed as normal.

The authors concluded, “Given the well-known benefits of breastfeeding and the prior studies demonstrating no ill effects when the mother was receiving antiepileptic drugs, these findings support the breastfeeding of infants by mothers with epilepsy who are taking antiepileptic drug therapy”.

The overview of the study can be found at the following link and should you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our Community Resource Officer for your area or your medical team.

More details on epilepsy and caring for new-borns can be found here.