August 1, 2018

Pregnant with Epilepsy? Folic Acid May Prevent Language Delays for Baby

Women who take epilepsy drugs while they are pregnant may have a lower risk of having a child with delays in language skills if they take folic acid supplements before and early in pregnancy, according to a study published in the August 1, 2018, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study found that among children whose mothers took epilepsy drugs while they were pregnant, those whose mothers did not take folic acid supplements were four times more likely to have delays in their language skills when they were 18 months old compared to children of mothers without epilepsy whose mothers did not take folic acid supplements. By three years old, those whose mothers took no supplements were nearly five times as likely to have language delays compared to children of mothers without epilepsy.

The study was conducted in Norway, where the government does not require foods to be fortified with folic acid, which is required in the United States. Even with folic acid added to foods, taking additional supplements is recommended for pregnant women in the United States.

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