Previous research has shown that the anti-epilepsy drug valproate can contribute to birth defects, in particular neural tube defects, and now a study by the Liverpool and Manchester Neurodevelopment Group has suggested that it could also raise the risk of children developing autism. The study, of 632 live births from 620 women, compared those taking anti-epilepsy drugs at the beginning of their pregnancy with women unaffected by epilepsy. The children were assessed for autism, or related conditions, at 1,3 and 6 years of age. Around 6.3% of the children exposed to valproate developed autistic spectrum disorders, a rate seven times higher than that in the control group. However, another anti-seizure drug called lamotrigine was not associated with an increase in the risk of autism.
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