Mom’s Medications May Raise Baby’s Autism Risk
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Epilepsy, a brain disorder where individuals experience repeated seizures, can be controlled with medication, but for women expecting a child the drug could have more consequences than benefits. A recent study in England offers evidence that women who take the antiepileptic drug sodium valproate during pregnancy have a higher risk of having children with neurodevelopmental disorders.
The children of 528 women who were pregnant between 2000 and 2004 were followed for the study. The physical and intellectual development of the kids was tested at 12 months, three years, and six years of age and their mothers reported whether they had talked to a specialist in regard to children’s development, behavior, educational progress, or health.
Out of all of the women 243 had epilepsy and about a hundred of those participants took valproate alone or in combination with another drug while they were pregnant.
Researchers found that not only was the occurrence of neurodevelopmental problems higher amongst children with epileptic mothers, 7.46% compared to 1.87%, but the children exposed to valproate alone in the womb were six times more likely to have a neurodevelopmental disorder and ten times more likely if valproate was taken in combination with other medications.
Another trend seen in the study is that the males likelihood of being diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder was three times higher than that of females, although why this is the case is not entirely clear.
This study is not the first time the antiepileptic drug has shown negative effects for fetuses. A previous study has suggested that valproate can be harmful for fetuses’ development.
However, these results do not mean women should automatically stop taking their antiepileptic medications but rather weigh the options.
"If sodium valproate is the treatment of choice, women should be provided with as much information as possible to enable them to make an informed decision," the study’s authors were quoted as saying.
Source: Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, January 2013