News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Are you a woman taking medicine for epilepsy, mood or pain?

Are you a woman taking medicine for epilepsy, mood or pain?

If you’re a woman and taking medicines for epilepsy, pain or mood regulation ACC, the Ministry of Health, the Health Quality & Safety Commission, and Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome New Zealand (FACS NZ) encourage you to talk to your doctor.

It’s important to understand both the benefits and risks of taking different medicines. Antiepileptic medicine is used to treat not just epilepsy, but also pain and mood regulation. Studies show antiepileptic medicine can pose a risk to unborn babies and may include spina bifida, cleft palate, heart defects, low IQ, and learning and behavioural problems. But the risks depend on what medicine you take, how much you take, and any other medication you may be on.

Harm can occur in the very early stages of pregnancy, often before people are even aware they’re pregnant, so it’s important for all women taking these medicines to use two effective forms of contraception (such as the Depo Provera Injection or IUD eg Mirena/coil and condoms).

“It’s vital that everyone understands their medication and is involved in the decision-making around their health. That’s why we’ve worked across agencies and with medical experts to create information about these medicines for both health professionals and women,” says Dr Peter Robinson, ACC’s Chief Clinical Advisor.

“Talk to your doctor, even if you aren’t planning on getting pregnant. Make sure you know the potential risks and can plan accordingly. Do not stop or reduce your medicine without speaking to your doctor, even if you think you’re pregnant. This sort of change to your medication can cause serious harm to you and your unborn baby.”

ACC, the Ministry of Health, the Health Quality &Safety Commission, and Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome New Zealand (FACS NZ) have worked with 15 clinicians and consumer advocates to create and distribute booklets for health professionals and women. These can be found at

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: And The Oscar Goes To … Parasite
For its deliciously dark wit and genre-bending ingenuity, Bong Joon-ho's latest movie has just won four out of a potential six Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay and Director. Only ten foreign-language films have previously been nominated for Best Picture and none have won before. More>>

Howard Davis: 1917's 1,000 Yard Stare

Sam Mendes has created a terrible and barbarous trek, one that we appreciate all the more for being catapulted right into the midst of this ear-splitting melee from the film's opening sequence. More>>

Floorball: NZ To Host World Cup Of Floorball In 2022

In a major coup for a minnow nation in the European-dominated sport of floorball, New Zealand has won the rights to host one of the sport’s marque international events. More>>

National Voyage Continues: Tuia 250 Ends

Tuia 250 has unleashed an unstoppable desire to keep moving forward and continue the kōrero about who we are, say the co-chairs of the Tuia 250 National Coordinating Committee, Dame Jenny Shipley and Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr. More>>


Over 150 Productions: NZ Fringe 2020 Has Launched

The upcoming festival will be held at 40 venues all over Wellington Region from 28 February to 21 March, and includes every genre possible—theatre, comedy, dance, music, clowning, cabaret, visual art, children’s shows and more! More>>





  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland