Intelligence and physical features of children of women with epilepsy

Teratology. 2000 Mar;61(3):196-202. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9926(200003)61:3<196::AID-TERA7>3.0.CO;2-T.


The teratogenicity of maternal epilepsy has been attributed to several factors, including the antiepileptic drugs taken to prevent seizures during pregnancy, the occurrence of seizures during pregnancy, and the factors in the mother that caused her to have epilepsy. We have addressed the hypothesis that the children of women who have a history of epilepsy (seizure history), but who took no antiepileptic drugs (AED) and had no tonic-clonic seizures in pregnancy, have an increased risk of malformations and diminished intelligence. The frequency of cognitive dysfunction was determined in 57 seizure history and 57 matched control children aged 6-l6 years. The masked evaluation of the children included a physical and neurologic examination and testing with the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) and a systematic physical examination for the features of the fetal AED syndrome. The evaluation of both parents of each child included a test of reasoning (Ravens Progressive Matrix) and a physical examination. There were no differences between the two groups of children in either IQ scores or physical features; none of the seizure history children was judged to have the "anticonvulsant face" or digit hypoplasia. This study had 80% power to rule out a difference of seven or more IQ points between the two groups, based on a two-sided test at a 5% level of significance. Our confidence in concluding that there was no difference between seizure history and control infants was strengthened by the fact that no statistically significant differences were observed with respect to multiple outcomes, including eight related measures of intelligence. Thirty (53%) of the seizure history mothers resumed taking AED after the birth of the child we evaluated. Additional studies are needed to address the teratogenicity of the antiepileptic drugs as monotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Height / physiology*
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires