Epilepsy Drug Taken During Pregancy May Affect IQ

Valproate, the epilepsy drug manufactured by Abbott, has been found to significantly lower a child’s IQ, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Valproate (Depakote) was found to lower a 3 year old’s IQ by 9 points in comparison to children whose mothers took other epilepsy drugs during pregnancy.
“We’ve known this drug is a bad actor for a long time,” said Dr. Lewis Holmes, director of the North American Antiepileptic Disease Pregnancy Registry, based at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder that can cause continual seizures.
The new study found that the higher the dosage of valproate taken during pregnancy the lower the child’s IQ. While the connection between epilepsy drugs and birth defects has been well documented the significant relationship between valproate and birth defects had not been determined prior to the latest study. Valproate use during pregnancy has been found to have a 2-4 times higher ratio of birth defects. Researchers still do not know the reason for the lower IQ in children who’ve been exposed to the epilepsy drug. The study did recommend that pregnant mothers avoid valproate as their first choice for epilepsy treatment.
If you are pregnant or may be pregnant and are epileptic, consult your physician for treatment options.