Risks associated with pharmacological treatment of bipolar disorder are heightened during reproductive events. Treatments need to be planned with the mutual agreement of both the treating physician and the patient and tailored to the needs of the individual so as to minimise risk while providing adequate treatment. Conventional treatments have all been associated with teratogeny in first trimester exposure, lithium with cardiac malformation and valproate and carbamazepine with neural tube malformations. There have been an insufficient number of first trimester exposures to the newer anticonvulsant mood stabilisers, lamotrigine and oxcarbazepine, to determine whether there is a safety advantage in switching to these agents. Increasingly, atypical antipsychotics are being suggested as useful agents for the treatment of bipolar disorder. While not known to be teratogenic, there are other reproductive safety concerns associated with these agents. Bipolar disorder patients may be prescribed antidepressants, and many of these agents are associated with a low safety risk during reproductive events, however data regarding use of these agents are currently equivocal. Adverse outcomes from inadequate pharmacological prophylaxis have been documented for both the mother and the baby. Risks and benefits need to be carefully balanced based on an accurate review of the evidence.
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