Objective: To delineate the risk to child IQ associated with frequently prescribed antiepileptic drugs.
Methods: Children born to women with epilepsy (n = 243) and women without epilepsy (n = 287) were recruited during pregnancy and followed prospectively. Of these, 408 were blindly assessed at 6 years of age. Maternal and child demographics were collected and entered into statistical models.
Results: The adjusted mean IQ was 9.7 points lower (95% confidence interval [CI] -4.9 to -14.6; p < 0.001) for children exposed to high-dose (>800 mg daily) valproate, with a similar significant effect observed for the verbal, nonverbal, and spatial subscales. Children exposed to high-dose valproate had an 8-fold increased need of educational intervention relative to control children (adjusted relative risk, 95% CI 8.0, 2.5-19.7; p < 0.001). Valproate at doses <800 mg daily was not associated with reduced IQ, but was associated with impaired verbal abilities (-5.6, 95% CI -11.1 to -0.1; p = 0.04) and a 6-fold increase in educational intervention (95% CI 1.4-18.0; p = 0.01). In utero exposure to carbamazepine or lamotrigine did not have a significant effect on IQ, but carbamazepine was associated with reduced verbal abilities (-4.2, 95% CI -0.6 to -7.8; p = 0.02) and increased frequency of IQ <85.
Conclusions: Consistent with data from younger cohorts, school-aged children exposed to valproate at maternal doses more than 800 mg daily continue to experience significantly poorer cognitive development than control children or children exposed to lamotrigine and carbamazepine.
© 2014 American Academy of Neurology.