Prenatal exposure to antiepileptic drugs associated with impaired fine motor skills

September 23, 2013

Prenatal exposure to antiepileptic medications was associated with an increased risk of impaired fine motor skills (small muscle movements) in children at age 6 months, but breastfeeding by women taking the medications was not associated with any harmful effects on child development at ages 6 to 36 months, according to a report published by JAMA Neurology.

Few studies have examined development during the first months of life of of mothers with epilepsy, according to background in the study by Gyri Veiby, M.D., of the University of Bergen, Norway, and colleagues.

Researchers used data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study from 1999 to 2009, in which mothers reported children's motor and social skills, language and behavior at 6, 18 and 36 months of age. Women also provided information on breastfeeding during the first year.

Exposure to antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy was reported in 223 children, mostly to a single drug (n=182).

At age 6 months, a higher proportion of infants whose mothers took antiepileptic drugs had impaired fine compared to the reference group (11.5 percent vs. 4.8 percent). The use of multiple antiepileptic medications was associated with impaired fine motor and social skills, according to the study results.

Breastfeeding by mothers using antiepileptic drugs was not associated with adverse development at ages 6 to 36 months in nursing children, according to the study.

"Women with epilepsy should be encouraged to breastfeed their children irrespective of antiepileptic medication use," the study concludes.

In an editorial, Paul C. Van Ness, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, writes: "Pregnant women with epilepsy often ask whether they will be able to breastfeed. Many have been given conflicting advice when there were scant data to answer the question."

"This study adds additional evidence that long-term breastfeeding is safe and perhaps even beneficial to infants of taking AEDs []," Van Ness continues.

"This should be an important area of discussion with any woman of childbearing potential well in advance of pregnancy using the best available information. Thus, a woman should take folic acid supplements, received AED monotherapy whenever possible, and take the lowest effective dose of medication," the editorial concludes.

Explore further: Antiepileptic drug use while pregnant impacts early child development

More information: JAMA Neurol. Published online September 23, 2013. DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.4290
JAMA Neurol. Published online September 23, 2013. DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.4348

Related Stories

Antiepileptic drug use while pregnant impacts early child development

July 18, 2013
Children whose mothers took antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) while pregnant are at increased risk of early development issues, according to a new study published in Epilepsia, a journal published by Wiley on behalf of the International ...

Study reveals long-term effects on child IQ of epilepsy drug valproate during pregnancy

January 22, 2013
Research published today in the Lancet Neurology shows that taking the antiepileptic drug valproate during pregnancy affects the IQ of children up to the age of six.

Fetal exposure to antiepileptic drug valproate impairs cognitive development

March 20, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—The effects of antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy have long been a concern of clinicians and women of childbearing age whose seizures can only be controlled by medications. In 1999, a study called the ...

Exposure to antiepileptic drug in womb linked to autism risk

January 30, 2013
Children whose mothers take the antiepileptic drug sodium valproate while pregnant are at significantly increased risk of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, suggests a small study published online in the Journal ...

FDA warns pregnant women about migraine drugs

May 6, 2013
(HealthDay)—Pregnant women who struggle with migraine headaches should never use medicines containing the ingredient valproate because they can lower the IQ scores of their children, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ...

Recommended for you

The neural codes for body movements

July 21, 2017
A small patch of neurons in the brain can encode the movements of many body parts, according to researchers in the laboratory of Caltech's Richard Andersen, James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, Tianqiao and Chrissy ...

Faulty support cells disrupt communication in brains of people with schizophrenia

July 20, 2017
New research has identified the culprit behind the wiring problems in the brains of people with schizophrenia. When researchers transplanted human brain cells generated from individuals diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia ...

Scientists reveal how patterns of brain activity direct specific body movements

July 20, 2017
New research by Columbia scientists offers fresh insight into how the brain tells the body to move, from simple behaviors like walking, to trained movements that may take years to master. The discovery in mice advances knowledge ...

Scientists discover combined sensory map for heat, humidity in fly brain

July 20, 2017
Northwestern University neuroscientists now can visualize how fruit flies sense and process humidity and temperature together through a "sensory map" within their brains, according to new research.

Team traces masculinization in mice to estrogen receptor in inhibitory neurons

July 20, 2017
Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have opened a black box in the brain whose contents explain one of the remarkable yet mysterious facts of life.

Speech language therapy delivered through the Internet leads to similar improvements as in-person treatment

July 20, 2017
Telerehabilitation helps healthcare professionals reach more patients in need, but some worry it doesn't offer the same quality of care as in-person treatment. This isn't the case, according to recent research by Baycrest.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.