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Clin Exp Neurol. 1981;17:71-8.

The clearance of anticonvulsant drugs in pregnancy.


30 epileptic patients taking one or more of the anticonvulsants phenytoin, carbamazepine, phenobarbitone, methylphenobarbitone and ethosuximide have been studied during the courses of 34 pregnancies. In all cases the drug dosage requirement to maintain therapeutic range plasma anticonvulsant levels increased during pregnancy and fell again during the puerperium. Calculated plasma drug clearances showed a marked increase during pregnancy, reaching a peak in the third trimester, and declined again in the 3 months following pregnancy to pre-pregnancy values. For the more extensively used drugs the mean ratios of the plasma clearances in the third trimester to those in the pre- or post-pregnancy state were phenytoin 2.5:1 (p less than .001), carbamazepine 1.9:1 (p less than .005), phenobarbitone 1.6:1 (p less than .001). The limitations of the plasma clearance approach for phenytoin, a drug which is eliminated largely by Michaelis-Menten kinetic mechanisms, are discussed.

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