Department of Economics and Business Economics

Use of antiepileptic drugs in women of fertile age

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INTRODUCTION: We studied the use of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in women of fertile age and pregnant women in a 16-year-period in Denmark.

METHODS: We included all women of fertile age (age 18-44 years) and pregnant women from 2001 to 2016 identified from Danish registers.

RESULTS: The median proportion of women of fertile age who took AEDs increased from 10.7‰ (95% confidence interval (CI): 10.5-10.9‰) in 2001 to 27.1‰ (95% CI: 26.8-27.4‰) in 2016. Lamotrigine, levetiracetam, gabapentin and pregabalin have been increasingly used over time and have been the main AEDs used in recent years. The use of valproate in women of fertile age decreased slightly from 2.1‰ (95% CI: 2.0-2.2‰) to 1.9‰ (95% CI: 1.8-2.0‰), which was explained by a decrease in the use after 2014 among women aged 18-24 years. The increased use of AEDs was likely owed to use for other indications than epilepsy. The overall use of AEDs in pregnant women increased from 3.8‰ (95% CI: 3.3-4.3‰) in 2001 to 6.9‰ (95% CI: 6.2-7.6‰) in 2016, and the use of valproate decreased from 0.6‰ (95% CI: 0.4-0.8‰) in 2001 to 0.2‰ (95% CI: 0.1-0.4‰) in 2016.

CONCLUSIONS: The overall use of AEDs in women of fertile age and pregnant women has increased in the past 16 years, especially due to an increased use of lamotrigine. However, valproate use in pregnant women and in younger women of fertile age has become less frequent.

FUNDING: This study received funding from the Lundbeck Foundation, the Danish Epilepsy Association, the Central Denmark Region and the Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF16OC0019126).


Original languageEnglish
Article numberA5563
JournalDanish Medical Journal
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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