Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 18 (2), 129-42

Anti-epileptic Medication and Bone Health


Anti-epileptic Medication and Bone Health

S J Petty et al. Osteoporos Int.


Background: Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder, usually requiring long-term treatment with anti-epileptic drugs (AED). Many studies have reported that AED therapy is associated with metabolic bone disease and is a major iatrogenic risk factor for fractures. There remains uncertainty about the type(s) of bone disease due to AED treatment, and the pathogenesis of AED-associated fractures.

Rationale: Deficits in bone mineral density (BMD) are widely reported in AED-treated patient populations. However, much of the research conducted to date has been limited by factors such as small sample size, potentially biased subject selection, a lack of selection of appropriate control data, and failure to take account of important confounding influences. The pathogenesis of AED-associated fractures is likely to be multifactorial, due to factors including reduced BMD, impaired bone quality (due to osteoporosis and/or osteomalacia), increased propensity to fall, and fractures associated with seizures or loss of consciousness.

Recommendations: Patients receiving long-term AED should be monitored for indices of bone health, including BMD and vitamin D status. Lifestyle factors should be optimized, vitamin D status maintained, and fall prevention strategies introduced as appropriate. Good seizure control is important. The use of additional, specific osteoporosis therapy is not evidence-based in this setting, but would appear reasonable in patients with clinically significant decreases in BMD, applying current treatment guidelines for osteoporosis.

Conclusion: There is a pressing need for improved understanding of the pathogenesis of AED-associated bone disease, for better definition of the risk associated with specific AED regimens, and for the development of evidence-based preventive and treatment approaches in this common but neglected disorder.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 36 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1999 Feb;38(2):93-8 - PubMed
    1. Pediatr Neurol. 1998 Aug;19(2):129-31 - PubMed
    1. Epilepsy Behav. 2004 Feb;5 Suppl 2:S3-15 - PubMed
    1. Epilepsy Behav. 2006 Feb;8(1):169-75 - PubMed
    1. Eur J Clin Invest. 2000 Oct;30(10 ):895-9 - PubMed

Publication types


LinkOut - more resources