(HealthDay News) – Prenatal exposure to antiepileptic drugs is associated with impaired fine motor skills at 6 months of age, according to a study published online Sept. 23 in JAMA Neurology.

Gyri Veiby, MD, from University of Bergen in Norway, and colleagues analyzed data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (1999–2009). Children’s motor and social skills, language, and behavior were reported by their mothers at 6, 18, and 36 months of age. Breastfeeding information was also collected.

The researchers found that, compared with the reference group, infants of mothers using antiepileptic drugs had a higher risk of impaired fine motor skills at 6 months of age (odds ratio, 2.1). There were adverse outcomes for both fine motor skills (odds ratio, 4.3) and social skills (odds ratio, 2.6) associated with use of multiple antiepileptic drugs, compared with the reference group. There was less impaired development at ages 6 and 18 months in children continuously breastfeeding, compared with those with no breastfeeding or breastfeeding for <6 months. However, prenatal antiepileptic drug exposure was associated with adverse development at 36 months regardless of breastfeeding status during the first year.

“Prenatal exposure to antiepileptic drugs was associated with impaired fine motor skills already at age 6 months, especially when the child was exposed to multiple drugs,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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