Children Prenatally Exposed to Epilepsy Drugs at Risk for Impaired Cognitive Development

Children Prenatally Exposed to Epilepsy Drugs at Risk for Impaired Cognitive DevelopmentThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently notified healthcare professionals that valproate sodium, used to control seizures caused by epilepsy, can increase the risk of lower cognitive test scores for children when mothers take the drug while pregnant.

Results were based on epidemiological studies that found that children born to mothers who took valproate sodium or related products during their pregnancy tend to score lower on IQ and similar cognitive tests than children born to mothers who took different epilepsy medications.

The FDA recommends that physicians should better inform women who are or may become pregnant of the adverse side effects the medicine may have on the cognitive development of the child.

According to HealthDay, a Swedish study of more than 1,200 teenagers born to epileptic women who took multiple epileptic medicines while pregnant performed worse than peers who were not exposed prenatally to those medications.

"Our results suggest that exposure to several anti-epileptic drugs in utero may have a negative effect on a child's neurodevelopment," study author Dr. Lisa Forsberg of Karolinska University Hospital told HealthDay.

The FDA also encourages patients to report any adverse side effects they encounter when taking valproate products to its MedWatch program.