Epilepsy Rx Safety in Pregnancy

Levetiracetam and topiramate for epilepsy in pregnant women not tied to lower IQ in children

(RxWiki News) Two newer epilepsy medications may not affect the IQs of children whose mothers took them during pregnancy, a new study found.

Those epilepsy drugs are levetiracetam and topiramate. An older epilepsy drug called valproate, however, was tied to lower IQs in children whose mothers took it during pregnancy, especially at higher dosages, this University of Manchester study found.

All three drugs are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat seizures. Valproate has been linked in past research to birth defects and developmental problems when taken during pregnancy.

But not levetiracetam and topiramate, according to this study, which looked at 171 women with epilepsy who had children between 5 and 9 years old.

These women took levetiracetam, topiramate, valproate or no epilepsy drug (the control group) during pregnancy. Children whose mothers had taken valproate during pregnancy, however, had lower IQs, as well as differences in verbal and nonverbal abilities and expressive language ability, these researchers found.

The fact this study was a small, observational study is a limitation. The researchers behind this study called for additional studies. 

The researchers noted topiramate has been linked with an increased risk of birth defects such as cleft lip and palate.

Talk to your health care professional about which medications are safe to take during pregnancy.

This study was published in the journal Neurology.

Epilepsy Research UK funded this study. Information about potential conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.