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A new study solidifies beliefs that women of child-bearing age should avoid the epilepsy drug Depacon (valproate). Evidence showed that of 333 women followed, 20 percent of those taking Depacon suffered miscarriages or gave birth to babies with birth defects. Problems with three other drugs ranged from one to 11 percent.

The study examined only women who took the epilepsy drugs from 199-2004, and researchers note that the sample size was small, and there are newer drugs which were not included in the study.

The researchers found that fetal death or serious birth defects occurred in 20 percent of the women who took valproate. Other problem rates were 11 percent for phenytoin, 8 percent for carbamazepine and 1 percent for lamotrigine.

The four drugs are also known by their U.S. brand names Depacon (valproate), Dilantin (phenytoin), Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Carbatrol (carbamazepine), and Lamictal (lamotrigine).

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