According to a new study published in Epilepsia, women who take multiple antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy may have teenagers who suffer from poor performance in schools. Antiepileptic drugs are used to control seizures during pregnancy. The team of researchers was from the Karolinska University Hospital and worked with the University of Lund on the project. This study was large scale; so many women were included in data research.

It is thought that antiepileptic drugs affect neurodevelopment in utero. It is thought that the use of multiple drugs at one time is harmful while taking a single drug to prevent epilepsy symptoms may not have the same effect.

The research group gathered information from birth registers and pulled records from 1,235 children with epileptic mothers. These children were compared to all other children born in Sweden during the same time frame. That totaled more than 1.3 million children in the comparison group.

Of the children in the study, 429 were born to mothers receiving multiple antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy. Children born in this group were far less likely to graduate from high school than children born to mothers taking only one medication or no medication. Lead study author Lisa Forsberg MD believes, “Our results suggest exposure to several AEDs in the womb may have a negative effect on the child's neurodevelopment.”

This research may help obstetricians to choose treatments with less effect on the fetus, though antiepileptic treatment may require multiple drugs in order to keep the pregnant woman safe during pregnancy.

Source: Lisa Forsberg, Katarina Wide, Bengt Kallen. Epilepsia. 4 November, 2010.