Friday, December 03, 2010

Anti-epileptic drug 'doubles spina bifida risk in babies'

For once they've got an effect strong enough to be identified as causative and they downplay it! Nonetheless they are right to do so as the incidence is so small in absolute terms. And Phenytoin (Dilantin) is a more frequent teratogen, though again at low incidence

It could however be argued that the deformities associated with Dilantin (facial deformities such as cleft lip) are susceptible to surgical correction, whereas spina bifida is not.

The major omission below is that they fail to mention that there are many disorders other than epilepsy for which Tegretol is prescribed: e.g. manic depression, tic douloureux, ADHD and PSD

Epileptic women who take a popular drug to control their fits during pregnancy are more than twice as likely to give birth to a baby with spina bifida as those that don't, research shows.

Those who took carbamazepine [Tegretol] during the first three months of pregnancy were 2.6 times more likely to give birth to a baby with spina bifida, than those who took no anti-epileptic drug, the pan-European study of 98,000 births of babies with major defects found.

Spina bifida - which means 'split spine' - develops in early pregnancy, when one or more of the spine's 33 vertebrae does not form properly. Nerves can be exposed leading to mobility, bladder and bowel problems.

Writing in the British Medical Journal today (FRI), the authors noted that carbamazepine was one of the most commonly used anti-epilepsy drugs in Europe among women of child-bearing age.

However, they also emphasised: "Although most antiepileptic drugs taken during pregnancy significantly increase the risk for one or more specific congenital malformations, the occurrence of these malformations is nevertheless rare … most exposed pregnancies result in a baby without malformation."

About one in 1,000 babies born in Britain has spina bifida.

In an accompanying editorial, Prof Irena Nulman of Toronto University, said that of all the anticonvulsant drugs, "carbamazepine is associated with the lowest rate of morphological defects ... and should therefore be considered the drug of choice in pregnancy".


US Congress passes school nutrition bill

The meddling in people's lives marches on. Feds can now dictate what food is available in schools

US politicians have passed a $US4.5 billion bill that will give more kids school meals and let the Government set child nutrition guidelines.

First Lady Michelle Obama, who this year launched a campaign against child obesity, called the bill a "groundbreaking piece of bipartisan legislation that will significantly improve the quality of meals that children receive at school and play an integral role in our efforts to combat childhood obesity".

The bill pledges the $US4.5 billion over 10 years to child nutrition programs, increases to the reimbursement paid to schools by the Federal Government for free meals provided to children, and expands access to school lunches and after-school meals.

It also allows the US Department of Agriculture to set nutrition guidelines for foods sold in schools, including in coin-operated vending machines, and provides money for school gardens and farm-to-school programs.

House Republicans tried to block the bill by introducing a last-minute amendment that would have barred the Government from giving funds to schools and other care facilities that hire workers who refuse to submit to or lie about background checks.

If their move had succeeded, the bill would have gone back to the Senate and would not have been voted on until the next session of Congress starts in January, with the Republicans in control of the House of Representatives.


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