February 19, 2018

Maternal use of epilepsy drug may decrease school performance in offspring

Pregnant women who used valproate had children with significantly lower school performance vs. children who were exposed to lamotrigine or not exposed to anti-epileptic drugs at all, according to findings recently published in JAMA Neurology.

“Numerous studies demonstrate increased risk of malformations after prenatal exposure, especially to valproate sodium. In addition, growing evidence indicates reduced IQ in young children after valproate exposure, and increased risk of autism spectrum disorders has been reported. Animal studies of prenatal and postnatal exposure also indicate affected brain development, ”Lars Skou Elkjær, MD, of the department of neurology at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues wrote.

“However, knowledge of the long-term consequences of prenatal exposure to valproate and newer generations of [anti-epileptic drugs] is scarce,” they added.

Researchers added that their findings suggest women of childbearing age should be cautioned against using valproate.