Approved to treat: Seizures, trigeminal neuralgia and migraines
Drug category: Anticonvulsant
Year approved: 1974
Manufacturer: Johnson & Johnson
Babies who are prenatally (before birth) exposed to Tegretol have an increased risk of developing birth defects, including:
- Limb Defects (Complete or partial absence of limb, overgrowth, undergrowth, fused limbs)
- Growth Retardation
- Spina Bifida
- Hypoplasia (underdeveloped organs or tissues)
- Steven Johnson Syndrome (SJS), a rare skin disorder in which development of painful red rashes could cause the top layer of the skin to die and shed eventually. SJS can also be fatal if the skin lesions become infected or they develop inside the person’s lungs.
Multiple Studies Find Link Between Tegretol Use and Birth Defects
Over the last 20 years, adverse effects relating to Tegretol have become apparent. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1989, fetal exposure to carbamazepine could interrupt fetal development and congenital malformation. The study observed 35 children who were prenatally exposed to the drug and found that 11 percent were born with craniofacial defects, 26 percent developed hypoplasia and 20 percent experienced developmental delay. Another study by the same publication released in 2001 states that anticonvulsant medications such as Tegretol can causes serious and life-threatening birth defects. While the risk varies for each defect, one thing is clear: women should be warned of these dangerous and potentially fatal side effects before becoming pregnant. Unfortunately, the manufacturer of Tegratol is not currently required to warn users of these increased risks and, as a terrible result, babies continue to be harmed.