Objective: Children born to women with epilepsy (WWE), exposed in utero to levetiracetam (LEV, n = 51), were assessed for early cognitive development and compared to children exposed to sodium valproate in utero (VPA, n = 44) and a group of children representative of the general population (n = 97).
Methods: Children were recruited prospectively from 2 cohorts in the United Kingdom and assessed using the Griffiths Mental Development Scale (1996), aged <24 months. Information regarding maternal demographics were collected and controlled for. This is an observational study with researchers not involved in the clinical management of the WWE.
Results: On overall developmental ability, children exposed to LEV obtained higher developmental scores when compared to children exposed to VPA (p < 0.001). When compared, children exposed to LEV did not differ from control children (p = 0.62) on overall development. Eight percent of children exposed to LEV in utero fell within the below average range (DQ score of <84), compared with 40% of children exposed to VPA. After controlling for maternal epilepsy and demographic factors using linear regression analysis, exposure to LEV in utero was not associated with outcome (p = 0.67). Conversely, when compared with VPA exposure, LEV exposure was associated with higher scores for the overall developmental quotient (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Children exposed to LEV in utero are not at an increased risk of delayed early cognitive development under the age of 24 months. LEV may therefore be a preferable drug choice, where appropriate, for WWE prior to and of childbearing age.