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The gift of life is beyond our comprehension. Advanced science has made major discoveries, while there are still hidden gems during gestation yet to be revealed. Nonetheless, cutting-edge research and technology has pointed many an expectant mother in the right direction toward a healthy pregnancy.

For starters, suggests the following during the first trimester:

  • Avoid unpasteurized foods (i.e. soft cheeses, ciders, uncooked lunch meat)
  • Enjoy coffee and tea in moderation
  • Avoid uncooked foods & those with high mercury levels (i.e. raw sushi, king mackerel, tilefish)
  • Enjoy plenty of spinach and other folic-acid rich foods
  • Avoid tanning, chemical hair treatments and waxing
  • Enjoy plenty of rest and relaxation

Unfortunately, some health risks that are not commonly taught are those that are not readily tested for in pregnant women, including prescription drug use. The National Center for Biotechnology Information documents that some medications can readily cross the placenta. Also, it is extremely important to discuss even pre-pregnancy use of prescription and over-the-counter medications with a health care practitioner. Studies have shown that this could be a possible cause for some major congenital malformations (MCM), such as orofacial clefts, spina bifida and heart defects, which could be preventable.

Antiepileptic drugs (i.e.Topamax / Topiramate) in particular could be a culprit in MCM. Data collected by the UK Epilepsy and Pregnancy Register, North American Antiepileptic drug (NAAED) Pregnancy Registry, and North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry show a possible link. The NAAED study “compared frequency of adverse pregnancy outcomes in topiramate users in monotherapy and controls. 3.8 % of major congenital malformations when exposed in the first trimester compared to 1.3% unexposed.”

Ultimately, awareness is key while touting a precious bundle. If you are pregnant and suffer from epilepsy, open dialogue with a health care professional is meant to ease, not create, any anxiety concerning the next few months. Focusing on the many positives of the first trimester, such as healthy eating, plenty of rest and relaxation will help ensure a happy pregnancy!

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