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Teens of Epileptic Mothers May Lag Academically: Study
Date:11/4/2010

By Julia VanTine
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Teens born to women who took two or more epilepsy drugs while pregnant fared worse in school than peers with no prenatal exposure to those medications, a large Swedish study has found.

Also, teens born to epileptic mothers in general tended to score lower in several subjects, including math and English.

The findings support earlier research that linked prenatal exposure to epilepsy drugs, particularly valproic acid (brand names include Depakene and Depakote), to negative effects on a child's ability to process information, solve problems and make decisions.

"Our results suggest that exposure to several anti-epileptic drugs in utero may have a negative effect on a child's neurodevelopment," said study author Dr. Lisa Forsberg of Karolinska University Hospital.

The study was published online Nov. 4 in Epilepsia.

The study was retrospective, meaning that it looked backwards in time. Using national medical records and a study conducted by a local hospital, Forsberg and her team identified women with epilepsy who gave birth between 1973 and 1986, as well as those who used anti-epileptic drugs during pregnancy. The team then obtained records of children's school performance from a registry that provides grades for all students leaving school at 16, the age that mandatory education ends in Sweden.

The researchers identified 1,235 children born to epileptic mothers. Of those, 641 children were exposed to one anti-epileptic drug and 429 to two or more; 165 children had no known exposure to the medications.

The researchers then compared those children's school performance to that of all other children born in Sweden (more than 1.3 million) during that 13-year period.

The teens exposed to more than one anti-epileptic drug in the womb were less likely to get a final grade than those in the general popu
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