Danish researchers have expressed concern over the safety of epilepsy drug valproate and revealed that children who are exposed to the drug were three times more likely to suffer from an autism spectrum disorder.
Researchers led by Dr Jakob Christensen of the Aarhus University Hospital made use of the national birth data to analyze more than 656,000 children born between 1996 and 2006. The researchers also used data from the national prescription drug registry to identify women who had filled a prescription for valproate shortly before their pregnancy and up to their delivery and correlated the data with Danish Psychiatric Register to identify children who had autism spectrum disorder.
The researchers found that those children who had been exposed to the drug when in womb were 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and five times more likely of suffering from early onset of autism compared to those children who were not.
"We know from previous studies valproic acid is associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations, and in recent years some animal and human studies have suggested maybe there are neuropsychological effects, like autism. Our study adds more evidence of that", Dr Christensen said.