Psychomotor development and minor anomalies in children exposed to antiepileptic drugs in utero: a prospective population-based study

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2000 Feb;42(2):87-92. doi: 10.1017/s0012162200000177.


The aim of this study was to assess psychomotor development, using Griffiths' test, and the incidence of minor anomalies at birth in children who had been exposed to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in utero. The study sample comprised 100 children of mothers who were treated with AEDs during pregnancy and 100 matched control children. Women with epilepsy were recruited from a pregnant urban population (450 000 inhabitants). The lowest possible dose of the fewest AEDs to maintain seizure control was used. Drug levels were controlled on a monthly basis. The children were assessed at 9 months of age. The study children had a significant increase in the number of minor anomalies (31 compared with 18 control children; odds ratio 2.4, CI 1.15 to 5.02, P=0.02 McNemars test), and an increased number of facial anomalies after carbamazepine exposure (11 compared with six control children). Drug exposure did not influence the Griffiths' score at 9 months of age. Even a meticulous AED treatment strategy during pregnancy increases the number of minor anomalies. However, treatment with AEDs does not necessarily influence short-term psychomotor development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / chemically induced*
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Embryo, Mammalian / drug effects*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Face / abnormalities
  • Female
  • Fetus / drug effects*
  • Fingers / abnormalities
  • Genitalia / abnormalities
  • Growth Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Skin Abnormalities / chemically induced
  • Toes / abnormalities


  • Anticonvulsants