- Epilepsy is a
neurological disorder characterized by seizures.
- A research
team from University of Manchester studied the effects of epilepsy drugs on
children when taken during pregnancy.
- Newer epileptic drugs
like topiramate and levetiracetam did not lower the IQ levels of children,
while valproate was found to decrease IQ
- Antiepileptic drugs should be prescribed cautiously
to avoid harmful adverse side effects.
A research team from the
University of Manchester in United Kingdom investigated the effects of two
newer epileptic medications taken during pregnancy with IQ levels of children.
The research study was
published in the online issue Neurology
, the medical journal of American
Academy of Neurology.
‘No signs of decreased IQ levels were found in children of mothers who took newer epileptic drugs during pregnancy.’
Research Study on
The Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has approved drugs like valproate
and levetiracetam for the
treatment of convulsions and seizures. However valproate being the commonly
drug for seizures
may lead to
birth defects. Therefore newer drugs
like levetiracetam and topiramate were
studied to know about their effects on thinking ability and developmental
problems in children.
Rebecca Bromley, PhD,
University of Manchester in the United Kingdom said that "As doctors move
away from prescribing valproate, we need to know about the alternatives for
pregnant women with epilepsy"
"Lower IQs early on
can harm a child's educational success for years to come and so it is important
that we gain a full understanding about any impact on development these
medications may have." she added.
According to the data
collected from the UK Epilepsy and Pregnancy Register, scientists identified
171 women with epilepsy and who had a child between the age of 5 and 9 years
old. Out of which 42 women took levetiracetam, 27 women took topiramate and 47
took valproate. And a control group of 55 women did not take any drug for epilepsy during pregnancy
The IQ levels, verbal and
nonverbal comprehension and the speed of processing visual information by their
children were measured by performing appropriate tests.
The findings of the
study reported that children of women who took levetiracetam or topiramate
during pregnancy were not associated with low IQ levels when compared with the
control group. While the children of women who took valproate during pregnancy
were associated with lowest IQ levels.
Out of 100 points,
children of mothers who took valproate scored an average of 11 points in the IQ
test and 19% of the children were found to be below the average IQ score when
compared to 6% of children whose mothers belonged to the control group.
"While our findings represent a promising start, larger studies need to be
done to ensure that these drugs will not change the thinking abilities of
It is noted that the
research study which was performed represented only a small proportion of women
from pregnancy registry and is not associated with all women affected by
Epilepsy and Its
is a neurological disorder characterized
by seizures, behavioral changes and sometimes loss of consciousness. There are
various forms of epilepsy like generalized seizures, absence seizures, atonic seizures,
partial seizures which may produce effects ranging from half a minute to two
minutes. The cause of epilepsy is mostly unknown. It may be caused due to
genetic factors or brain injury and accidents.
Symptoms like unusual
cry, nodding of the head, rapid blinking of the eyes, jerking, shock-like
contractions of the muscle, behavioral problems and loss of consciousness may
It is estimated that
about 70 million people in the world are affected by epilepsy. Out of which
around 12 million people from India and 2.9 million people in the United States
are found to have epilepsy.
Anti-epileptic drugs or
anti-convulsant drugs like phenobarbitone,
carbamazepine, phenytoin, valproate, ethosuximide,
clonazepam are used to control
seizures. Newer epileptic drugs like levetiracetam,
topiramate, vigabatrin and
zonisamide are also used for the treatment of
epilepsy. Proper diet and counselling are required and sometimes surgery may
also be initiated as a treatment option.
Adverse Effects of
prescribed based on the type of epilepsy, age and medical conditions.
Most of the
anti-epileptic drugs are associated with side effects like nausea, vomiting,
vertigo, nystagmus (involuntary eye movements), ataxia (lack of voluntary
coordination of muscle movements), vertigo, dizziness, sedation and birth
defects when taken during pregnancy.
result in overgrowth of gum fibers in the teeth, coarsening of facial features,
allergic reactions, anemia, osteomalacia (softening of the bones) and
behavioral problems. Use of phenytoin during pregnancy may result in fetal
hydantoin syndrome resulting in cleft palate, hare lip (opening in the roof of
the mouth) and microcephaly (abnormal small head of the baby).
carbamazepine are also capable of causing neural tubular defects like spina
bifida ( incomplete closing of the backbone).
Newer epileptic drugs
like topiramate may also result in birth defects like cleft lip and palate.
Therefore prescribing antiepileptic drugs for controlling seizures should be
done with caution.
- Overview -Epilepsy - (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/home/ovc-20117206)
- Epilepsy Fast
Facts - (http://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/basics/fast-facts.htm)
- Epilepsy in India I: Epidemiology and public
health - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4564458/)