Fetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome is caused during the first trimester (3 Months) of pregnancy, when a mother to be takes anti convulsant drugs to help control seizures.
Many epileptic women tend to have more, or more severe seizures during pregnancy and so some doctors are tempted to up the dosage, which makes the unborn (fetus) more susceptible to problems at birth or in later life.
As stated in BMJ. 21st February 1987:-
"Some anti-convulsant drugs are present in fetal blood in lower concentrations than in maternal blood, but others may accumulate in the fetus so that fetal blood concentrations exceed those of the mother."
"Changes during early pregnancy may well be important, however, because an increase in the free fraction of anti convulsant drugs in the fetus may lead to a greater risk of fetal abnormality"
"If anti-convulsant drugs are necessary in early pregnancy the smallest does that is compatible with control of seizures should be used."
"Unfortunately , in many cases, the above is not put into practise, causing many babies being born with a number of problems." ( See common problems page)