To facilitate an integrated and rational approach to the care of women with epilepsy of childbearing potential, a group of experts appointed by Italian scientific societies in the fields of epileptology, neonatology, pediatrics, neuropediatrics, child neuropsychiatry, obstetrics, and gynecology held a joint meeting in Santa Trada di Cannitello, Reggio Calabria, Italy, on October 15-16, 2004, with the aim of reaching consensus on the optimal management of these women. An ad hoc system for the classification of available published evidence and the opinions of experts was developed and used to grade recommendations on different aspects related to counseling, diagnostic, and treatment issues. The present document summarizes available evidence on the reciprocal interactions between epilepsy, antiepileptic drugs, fertility, contraception, pregnancy, delivery, breastfeeding, and the offspring. Recommendations are made concerning the information and counseling that should be provided to women with epilepsy with respect to issues related to contraception, conception, pregnancy, labour, and puerperium. More detailed recommendations on the same issues are provided to physicians and other healthcare professionals involved in the care of these women, with special reference to choice of effective contraception, optimization of antiepileptic drug therapy, use of prenatal diagnostic tests and other monitoring procedures, and appropriate management practices in relation to childbirth, puerperium, and the care of the child.
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