Anticonvulsants for cerebral palsy


Generic Name Brand Name
gabapentin Neurontin
lamotrigine Lamictal
oxcarbazepine Trileptal
topiramate Topamax
zonisamide Zonegran

How It Works

Anticonvulsants reduce excess electrical activity in the brain.

Why It Is Used

Anticonvulsants are used to prevent or control seizures.

How Well It Works

Anticonvulsants successfully control or prevent seizures in most people with cerebral palsy.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of anticonvulsants include:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Restlessness and irritability.
  • Confusion and dizziness.
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.
  • Uncontrollable eye movements (nystagmus).
  • Gum disease (gingivitis).
  • Itching, fever, and a measles-like rash (sensitivity reaction).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on anticonvulsants and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take anticonvulsant medicine should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take anticonvulsant medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

  • Some anticonvulsants make birth control pills (oral contraceptives) less effective. Talk with your health professional about other methods of birth control while taking these medications.
  • Many anticonvulsants increase the sedating effects of alcohol and medications such as antihistamines that often are used to treat colds, flu, and allergies.
  • Some anticonvulsants make people more prone to gum disease (gingivitis).

Women taking anticonvulsants need to talk with their health professionals if they are considering becoming pregnant. Anticonvulsants may harm a fetus.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Last Updated: October 14, 2008

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