Epilepsy drug taken in pregnancy found safe in preschool child development

January 8, 2014

A new study finds that the epilepsy drug levetiracetam appears not to be associated with thinking, movement and language problems for preschool children born to mothers who took the drug during pregnancy, although the drug valproate was associated with some difficulties in preschoolers. The study is published in the January 8, 2014, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"These results are heartening, as the use of levetiracetam has increased in recent years, but there has been limited information on its effect on the thinking, movement and of . However this is the first study to look at the effects of levetiracetam and further research is needed before we can be certain there are no associations. It is very important that women do not stop taking their medication before speaking to their healthcare professional," said study author Rebekah Shallcross, PhD, of the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

The study involved 53 children exposed to levetiracetam, 44 children whose mothers took valproate and 151 children whose mothers did not have epilepsy and did not take any drugs during pregnancy. The children were age three to four-and-a-half. Tests evaluated their development in areas such as thinking, movement and language abilities.

The study found that children exposed to levetiracetam did not differ from children not exposed to on any scale administered. Children who were exposed to valproate, however, scored an average of 16 points lower on movement tests, 10 points lower on expressive language tests and six points lower on language comprehension measures than those exposed to .

In a corresponding editorial, Pavel Klein, MB, BChir, of the Mid-Atlantic Epilepsy and Sleep Center in Bethesda, Md., said, "Importantly, valproate is used more commonly for treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases such as bipolar affective disorder or migraines, than for epilepsy. In 2005 to 2007, only 19 percent of the 926,000 valproate prescriptions given to women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 44 years were for seizures. There is virtually no information about the drug's effect on babies born to mothers taking the drug for these disorders." Klein noted that valproate doses used in these disorders are usually lower than for epilepsy.

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

Related Stories

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.

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 ...

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 ...

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.