Expert opinion: use of valproate in girls and women of childbearing potential with epilepsy: recommendations and alternatives based on a review of the literature and clinical experience-a European perspective

J Neurol. 2021 Aug;268(8):2735-2748. doi: 10.1007/s00415-020-09809-0. Epub 2020 Apr 1.


Valproate is a broad-spectrum antiepileptic drug (AED) of particular interest in pediatric epilepsy syndromes and idiopathic generalized epilepsy, as it is relatively more effective in these syndromes than other AEDs. In 2018, the European Medicines Agency introduced new restrictions on the use of valproate in girls and women of childbearing potential to avoid exposure during pregnancy. The strengthening of existing restrictions sparked controversy and debate among patients and the medical community. The high prevalence of epilepsy syndromes amenable to valproate treatment in women of childbearing age and the little information available on the teratogenic potential of alternative treatments have created uncertainty on how to manage these patients. In this consensus statement, based on a review of the literature and the clinical experience of a panel of European epilepsy experts, we present general recommendations for the optimal clinical management of AED treatment in girls, women of childbearing potential, and pregnant women across the different epilepsy syndromes.

Keywords: Antiepileptic drugs; Childbearing; Epilepsy; Pregnancy; Teratogenicity; Valproate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Epilepsy* / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy, Generalized* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / drug therapy
  • Valproic Acid / adverse effects


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Valproic Acid