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Published: 1 August 2013

NICE initiative on pregnancy and epilepsy

New financial incentives, encouraging  family doctors  to offer information and  counselling about contraception, conception and pregnancy  to women with epilepsy, have been welcomed by the charity Epilepsy Society. The plans, announced today (August 1) by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), urge GPs to question women with epilepsy about their plans for children to prevent placing unborn babies at risk.

According to research less than half of women with epilepsy who have had children were told before conceiving or during pregnancy that their medication might affect their unborn child.

Epilepsy Society

Epilepsy Society's communications and campaigns manager Amanda Cleaver said:  'Epilepsy Society welcomes this initiative by NICE - which highlights the important issues which can affect women taking anti-epileptic drugs in relation to pregnancy. Pre- conception counselling is vital to the health of the mum to be and her baby.  We need to ensure that every woman with epilepsy  is aware of the issues and family doctors are  best placed to give that information in the first instance.'

Women taking anti-epileptic medication have a slightly increased risk of having a baby with abnormalities - with the risk increasing if they are taking two or more drugs.

The NICE indicators are subject to  consultation and have been developed for the 2014/15  Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) which rewards GPs financially for protecting the health of their patients.