Topamax, A Dangerous Drug for Pregnant Women

In 1996, the anticonvulsant generic drug Topamax, more popular under the name Topiramate, began to be prescribed to patients suffering from migraine and seizures due to epilepsy. This Johnson & Johnson product came to be an effective relief from the excruciating pains of migraine, as well as an effective means in holding back epileptic seizures by controlling signals released by the nerves.

Because Topamax clearly worked better than any other anticonvulsant drug, it became the first choice of doctors when prescribing this type of drug to patients, even to pregnant women. A particular drug can have different effects in people who use it, however, mainly due to the differences in how each person’s body reacts to medicine. Thus, it was not long after it became available that cases of severe side-effects, which particularly affected the unborn child, began to circulate.

The most common recorded Topamax side effects on the unborn child are cleft lip, cleft palate and hypospadias, a congenital condition wherein the urethra’s opening (the urethra is the tube which connects the genitals to the urinary bladder) develops under the male organ. Pregnant women, to whom Topamax has been prescribed, usually give birth to children with any of these injuries. These birth defects may be corrected through a surgical procedure, but this will have to done upon the baby’s birth – a definitely costly treatment for the child’s family.

The severe harm caused by the said drug on the unborn were concerns serious enough to make the US Food and Drug Administration issue a statement regarding the great risks to which the drug exposed the unborn child. With this statement, the FDA also advised doctors to observe extra precaution when prescribing the drug to pregnant women.

The pharmaceutical dangers linked to Topamax did not affect the unborn only, however. Many other side-effects were recorded that were suffered by other patients who used the drug. These side-effects included diarrhea, speech and/or coordination problems, paresthesia or “pins and needles,” which is numbness in one’s arms and/or legs, memory recall issues, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and so forth.