Psychiatric comorbidities, sexual health and neurodevelopmental outcomes of offspring in men with epilepsy

Epilepsy Behav. 2021 Jan;114(Pt A):107562. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.107562. Epub 2020 Nov 24.


Background: There is a paucity of data in the literature specific to men with epilepsy on anti-seizure medication (ASM). The current study investigated the time to conception as well as the gestational and the neurodevelopmental outcomes of offspring of men with epilepsy on ASM compared to controls. Additionally, the prevalence of psychiatric comorbidities, and measures of sexual performance in males with and without epilepsy were analyzed.

Methods: A total of 450 male patients with and without epilepsy at one hospital were provided questionnaires to determine demographic characteristics, epilepsy history, type of ASM at the time of conception, comorbidities and sexual health. Time to conception, fertility methods and offspring birth and developmental history born to males with and without epilepsy was recorded. Survey data was evaluated using Student's t-test for continuous variables and Fisher's exact test for categorical variables. Odds ratio (OR) were calculated to determine associations between the measured data.

Results: After matching for age, we analyzed a total of 110 males with epilepsy and 110 without epilepsy. In the epilepsy group there was a higher rate of psychiatric comorbidities such as major depressive disorder, general anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and suicidal ideation when compared to the control group (N = 110; OR 3.39; 95% IC: 1.87-6.13, p < 0.001). Males with epilepsy also had a higher frequency of low erection scores when compared to males without epilepsy (N = 70 with epilepsy, N = 76 without epilepsy; OR 3.67; 95% IC: 1.44-9.39, p = 0.005). Of the 110 men with a diagnosis of epilepsy, 17 conceived children while using ASMs (38 total children). A total of 18.42% of children born to fathers on ASMs experienced developmental delays compared to 2.63% of controls, however this result was not statistically significant (p = 0.056). In addition, we did not find that offspring had significantly different birth weights or gestational ages in men on ASM compared to controls (p > 0.05).

Conclusions: The present study suggests that men with epilepsy have an increased incidence of psychiatric comorbidities, and altered sexual performance, specifically erectile dysfunction, when compared with men without epilepsy. There was no statistically significant difference in the rates of developmental disorders and birth characteristics among those men with epilepsy on ASM at the time of conception and controls.

Keywords: Anti-seizure medications; Delayed milestones; Epilepsy; Male sexual dysfunction; Neurodevelopment.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder, Major*
  • Epilepsy* / complications
  • Epilepsy* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Sexual Health*