Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.

Theme 4: Reproduction and hormones

Many anti-seizure medications cause malformations in babies when they are exposed in utero. But we do not understand the mechanisms by which malformations occur.

Nor do we understand the risk posed to children fathered by men taking anti-seizure medications, or if there are transgenerational effects.

For both men and women living with epilepsy, deciding to start a family can still cause great anxiety and stress. We need to better understand the mechanisms by which antiseizure medicines cause harm to the babies of people with epilepsy. To fully remove the burden of anxiety, and the risk to future generations, we must develop strategies and newer treatments that prevent that harm.

Our research priorities

  • Identify the risk of antiseizure medications causing congenital malformations or cognitive delay in babies born to parents taking them. This will require a more comprehensive UK pregnancy register, with collection of biological samples and cognitive assessment of children.
  • Better understand the mechanisms by which antiseizure medications cause harm to the reproductive system, and develop strategies and new ways of preventing that harm. Alongside this we will seek to identify any risk of transgenerational effects.
  • Discover the mechanisms by which antiseizure medications cause harm to the developing child, and develop strategies and new ways of preventing that harm.
  • Understand the longer term consequences of epilepsy and its treatment on reproductive health, including menopause and bone health.
  • Enable informed treatment choices to be made by those considering a family and understand how benefits and harms are traded off in order to make treatment decisions.