The longer term outcome of children born to mothers with epilepsy

N. Adab, U. Kini, J. Vinten, J. Ayres, G. Baker, J. Clayton-Smith, H. Coyle, A. Fryer, J. Gorry, J. Gregg, G. Mawer, P. Nicolaides, L. Pickering, L. Tunnicliffe, D. W. Chadwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

389 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To determine the prevalence of cognitive delay and possible associated dysmorphic features in children exposed to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in utero. Design: Retrospective study of children born to mothers with epilepsy. Setting: Regional epilepsy clinics in Liverpool and Manchester, UK. Participants: Children aged between 6 months and 16 years born to mothers with epilepsy. Main outcome measures: Structured interviews, hospital records, clinical examination, and psychometric tests (Wechsler) were used to assess exposure and intelligence quotient (IQ). Blinded assessment of photographs was used to score children with characteristic dysmorphic features. Results: A total of 249 children aged 6 and over were studied: 41 were exposed to sodium valproate, 52 to carbamazepine, 21 to phenytoin, 49 to polytherapy, and 80 were unexposed. Mean verbal IQ was significantly lower in the valproate group compared to unexposed and other monotherapy groups. Multiple regression analysis showed that both valproate exposure and frequent tonic-clonic seizures in pregnancy were significantly associated with a lower verbal IQ despite adjusting for other confounding factors. There was a significant negative correlation between dysmorphic features and verbal IQ in children exposed to valproate. Conclusions: This study identifies valproate as a drug carrying potential risks for developmental delay and cognitive impairment and is the first to suggest that frequent tonic-clonic seizures have a similar effect. Our results need to be interpreted with caution given their retrospective nature. Women with epilepsy need careful counselling about individual risk benefit of AED treatment before pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1575-1583
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The longer term outcome of children born to mothers with epilepsy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Adab, N., Kini, U., Vinten, J., Ayres, J., Baker, G., Clayton-Smith, J., Coyle, H., Fryer, A., Gorry, J., Gregg, J., Mawer, G., Nicolaides, P., Pickering, L., Tunnicliffe, L., & Chadwick, D. W. (2004). The longer term outcome of children born to mothers with epilepsy. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 75(11), 1575-1583.