The Epilepsy Foundation issues Call to Action

October 04, 2005

Landover, MD (October 4, 2005) - Today, the Epilepsy Foundation issued a Call to Action to women of childbearing age who take anticonvulsant medications for conditions that include epilepsy, migraine headaches, and certain psychiatric disorders, urging them to talk to their healthcare providers about treatment options. The Call to Action was created in cooperation with medical experts and representatives from leading medical professional and voluntary health organizations.

Anticonvulsants are used to control seizures in people with epilepsy, but are more frequently prescribed for the treatment of non-epileptic neurological pain symptoms, such as migraine headaches and tremors, and for psychiatric conditions, such as mood and bipolar disorders. According to experts, there were more than 56 million prescriptions written last year making anticonvulsants the fifth most prescribed class of medications.

"The Epilepsy Foundation began its outreach about the effects of anticonvulsants on women in the mid-1990s with an initiative to educate women with epilepsy and their physicians about emerging links between seizures, menstrual cycles and other interrelationships in women's reproductive health. The Call to Action issued today places a sense of urgency for all women of childbearing age to re-evaluate their current drug treatment," said Eric Hargis, president of the Epilepsy Foundation.

The risks to the fetus from anticonvulsant drug use occurs very early in the pregnancy and is compounded by the fact that nearly 50 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, leaving women unaware and unprepared for the potential risks.

The Epilepsy Foundation, through an unrestricted education grant from GlaxoSmithKline, convened a meeting with medical experts and leading medical professional and voluntary health organizations to develop the following Action Steps to empower women to reduce the risks associated with anticonvulsant drugs, and establish a more successful partnership with their healthcare providers:
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Epilepsy Foundation
The Epilepsy Foundation, with national offices in metropolitan Washington, D.C., and a network of local affiliates throughout the nation, is the leading volunteer organization devoted to research, education, advocacy and services for people with seizure disorders and their families. For more information, visit www.epilepsyfoundation.org, or call 1-800-332-1000.

Editor's Note: Visit www.epilepsyfoundation.org for full text of action steps, get quotes from experts, and view participating organizations.

Epilepsy Foundation

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