Cognitive abilities and behaviour of children exposed to antiepileptic drugs in utero

Rebecca L. Bromley, Gus A. Baker, Kimford J. Meador

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose of review: The last two decades have witnessed a growing concern over the treatment of epilepsy in women of childbearing age, with an increased risk of major congenital malformations and possible cognitive difficulties associated with certain antiepileptic drugs. The aim here is to review the literature regarding the possible cognitive and behavioural impact of exposure to antiepileptic drugs in utero. Recent findings Recent evidence from large prospective cohorts indicates that there is a longer term risk to the cognitive and behavioural development of the child exposed in utero to sodium valproate. Information on other antiepileptic agents is conflicting or nonexistent and more research in this area is urgently required. Summary Despite the methodological shortfalls of some of the research in this area, there is an accumulation of evidence highlighting an increased risk for cognitive and behavioural difficulties in children exposed to sodium valproate in utero. Although less certain, there may also be risks associated with phenobarbital and phenytoin exposure. Information regarding these risks should be communicated to the potential mother who has epilepsy. © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)162-166
    Number of pages4
    JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009


    • Antiepileptic drugs
    • Cognitive
    • Epilepsy
    • In utero
    • Pregnancy


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