Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Anti-epilepsy drugs and children's IQs

Sodium valproate is an anti-epilepsy drug taken by people to control their seizures. Around 5,000 women with epilepsy become pregnant every year in the UK and antiepilepsy drugs have been linked to an increased risk of birth defects such as heart malformations, dysmorphic features and minor limb deformities. Researchers from Liverpool University, Emory University in the U.S. and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust tested more than 300 3-year-olds whose mothers had taken anti-epilepsy drugs. They found that those women who took sodium valproate while they were pregnant had children with IQs six to nine points lower than those women taking other anti-epilepsy drugs. The researchers stressed that although anti-epilepsy drugs carry a slightly-increased risk of birth defects the risk is still very small and less than the risks to mothers and children from uncontrolled seizures. They advised women concerned about their anti-epilepsy medication to contact their GP before stopping taking the drugs.

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