Epilepsy drug taken in pregnancy may lower child’s IQ, study says

Toddlers of moms who took the epilepsy drug valproate during pregnancy had lower IQs than the children of women who used other anti-seizure medicines, according to a new study.

ATLANTA — Toddlers of moms who took the epilepsy drug valproate during pregnancy had lower IQs than the children of women who used other anti-seizure medicines, according to a new study.

The valproate children had IQ scores six to nine points lower by age three, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Kimford Meador of Emory University. The drug, also sold in the U.S. under the brand name Depakote, had previously been linked to birth defects, particularly spina bifida. Women of childbearing age have long been advised to avoid it.

“We’ve known this drug is a bad actor for a long time,” said Dr. Lewis Holmes, director of the North American Antiepileptic Disease Pregnancy Registry, based at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

The new study is important because it’s the largest to show a connection between valproate and diminished IQ. Its publication in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine should alert physicians who until now have ignored the drug’s potential dangers to fetuses, added Holmes, who was not involved with the study.

In the United States, about 25,000 children are born each year to women who have epilepsy, a brain disorder that causes people to have recurring seizures. In the study, researchers followed pregnant women in the United States and United Kingdom between 1999 and 2004. The results are based on about 260 of their children.

Toddlers whose mothers had taken valproate had IQs of 92, on average. In contrast, IQ scores were in the range of 98 to 101 for children of women who had taken lamotrigine, phenytoin and carbamazepine. IQ tests are designed so a child of average intelligence scores 100.

The higher the dosage of valproate a woman had taken, the lower the IQ of the child, the researchers found. For the other drugs, dosage levels made no significant difference.

The number of children in the study is small, and it’s possible that other factors influenced the results. However, the researchers accounted for differences in a child’s birth weight, the age and IQs of their mothers, the type of epilepsy the mothers had, and other factors that could have influenced it.

Just Posted

Hospitalizations jump in Red Deer due to opioid poisonings

Small city hospitals impacted more by opioid crisis

Central Alberta councils learn more about Bighorn Country proposal

A collection of central Alberta politicians are learning more about the province’s… Continue reading

High-speed chase led to fatal collision, jury hears

A Delburne man accused of manslaughter caused a fatal rollover collision during… Continue reading

‘Part of the solution:’ Alberta seeks proposals to build new refinery

EDMONTON — Alberta is looking for someone to build a new oil… Continue reading

Online ads spoil Christmas surprises, raising privacy concerns: experts

Lisa Clyburn knew she had found the perfect gift for her nine-year-old… Continue reading

Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio and Adriana Leon up for top CONCACAF awards

Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio are up for CONCACAF male… Continue reading

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

TORONTO — Canada Soccer has named striker Jordyn Huitema and defender Derek… Continue reading

Review: Too much Spider-Man? Not in the Spider-Verse

You might be forgiven for feeling superhero overload this holiday season. Had… Continue reading

‘Modern Family’s’ Sarah Hyland had second kidney transplant

LOS ANGELES — “Modern Family” star Sarah Hyland says she had a… Continue reading

Orlando SC acquires Canadian Tesho Akindele in trade with FC Dallas for cash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Canadian forward Tesho Akindele was traded to Orlando City… Continue reading

Koskinen notches third shutout, McDavid gets winner as Oilers blank Flames 1-0

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers appear to have shored up their defence… Continue reading

Most Read