Preschool behavioral problems in children prenatally exposed to antiepileptic drugs - a follow-up study

Epilepsy Behav. 2013 Nov;29(2):407-11. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2013.08.033. Epub 2013 Oct 3.


We studied the association between maternal epilepsy, antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment, and behavioral problems in preschool children. In the Danish National Birth Cohort, we identified 4- to 5-year-old children whose mothers had epilepsy and received AED treatment (n=133) or not (n=304) during pregnancy and compared them with randomly selected children whose mothers did not have epilepsy (n=1193). The children's behavioral problems were assessed by the use of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Children prenatally exposed to AEDs more often had an abnormal total SDQ score as compared with children of women without epilepsy (odds ratio (OR)=4.8 (95% CI: 1.9-12.1)) and as compared with children of women with epilepsy who were not treated with AEDs during their pregnancy (OR=4.0 (95% CI: 1.3-12.8)). In conclusion, prenatal AED exposure may increase the risk of behavioral problems in preschool children even after adjustments for potential confounders and maternal epilepsy.

Keywords: AED; Anticonvulsants; Behavioral development; Birth cohort; CI; Follow-up study; IQ; Maternal epilepsy; OR; Pregnancy; SDQ; Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire; antiepileptic drug; confidence interval; intelligence quotient; odds ratio.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / chemically induced*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Anticonvulsants