THURSDAY, Oct. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Prenatal exposure to sodium valproate (VPA) is associated with a reduction in offspring IQ, according to a review published online October 30 in The Cochrane Library.

Rebecca Bromley, Clin.PsyD, PhD, from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the effect of prenatal exposure to antiepileptic drugs on neurodevelopmental outcomes in offspring. A systematic review of the literature was conducted and data were included from 22 prospective cohort studies and six registry-based studies.

The researchers found that the developmental quotient (DQ) was lower in children exposed to carbamazepine versus those born to women without epilepsy and to those born to women with untreated epilepsy; further analysis indicated that these results were due to within-study variability. The DQ and IQ of children exposed to VPA were lower than that of children born to untreated women. The IQ of children exposed to VPA was lower than that of children born to women without epilepsy and that of those exposed to carbamazepine. In six studies there was a dose effect reported for VPA, with higher doses associated with poorer cognitive outcome.

“The most important finding is the reduction in IQ in the VPA exposed group, which are sufficient to affect education and occupational outcomes in later life,” the authors write. “However, for some women VPA is the most effective drug at controlling seizures.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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