Epilepsy Drug Autism Risk May Be Lowered by Folic Acid Supplements: Study

Anti-epileptic medications are known to increase the risk of a child having autism when taking during pregnancy, however use of folic acid supplements may reduce that risk, according to the findings of new research. 

In a study published last week in the medical journal JAMA Neurology, researchers indicate that children of women who were taking anti-epileptic drugs and folic acid during pregnancy had a lower risk of developing autistic traits than children of women who were only taking anti-epileptic drugs.

Researchers from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, seeking strategies to prevent autism in children exposed to anti-epileptic drugs during pregnancy, looked at data of Norwegian speaking pregnant women attending routine ultrasound appointments from June 1999 to December 31, 2008.

Did You Know?

AT&T Data Breach Impacts Millions of Customers

More than 73 million customers of AT&T may have had their names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other information released on the dark web due to a massive AT&T data breach. Lawsuits are being pursued to obtain financial compensation.

The data included nearly 105,000 children ages 18 to 36 months. Mothers were given questionnaires during and after pregnancy, blood samples were analyzed, and medical data from the birth Registry of Norway was used. Mothers were either taking anti-epileptic drugs during pregnancy or had untreated epilepsy. Some were also taking folic acid.

Mothers took folic acid supplements four weeks before conception, then up to 12 weeks after conception. Autistic traits were evaluated using the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers and Social Communication Questionnaire.

According to the findings, children exposed to anti-epileptic drugs in utero had a significantly lower risk of autistic traits if the mother also used folic acid supplements during pregnancy. The findings indicate that the higher the level of folate concentration in a woman’s blood during gestational weeks 17 to 19, the lower the risk of the degree of autistic traits.

Among the 335 children exposed to anti-epileptic drugs and whose mothers did not take folic acid, their risk for autistic traits was higher at 18 months and 36 months. Their adjusted odds ratio was 5.9 at 18 months and 7.9 at 36 months.

Children without epilepsy had a lower risk of autism at 18 months and 36 months of age. For women without epilepsy, their adjusted odds ratio of having children with autistic traits was 1.3 at 18 months and 1.7 at 36 months.

Of the nearly 400 children of women with untreated epilepsy, they did not have a significantly increased risk at 18 months and 36 months of age. Those patients did not take anti-epileptic drugs to treat the condition.

Study authors emphasized women of childbearing age who are taking anti-epileptic drugs should take folic acid continuously to reduce their child’s risk later after pregnancy.

This isn’t the first study to evaluate the side effects of anti-epileptic drugs during pregnancy.  A 2013 study indicated that drugs like Depakote and Lamictal, may increase the risk of birth defects, including premature birth, low birth weight, abnormally small head and other congenital birth defects.

Another report issued in 2017 indicated more than 4,000 children from France suffered birth defects after their mothers took antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy. Side effects included neurological defects and birth defects, like spina bifida, malformed limbs, and holes in the heart.

0 Comments

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Want your comments reviewed by a lawyer?

To have an attorney review your comments and contact you about a potential case, provide your contact information below. This will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Uber Driver Sexual Assaults and Misconduct Reports Must Be Disclosed in Lawsuit Discovery
Uber Driver Sexual Assaults and Misconduct Reports Must Be Disclosed in Lawsuit Discovery (Posted today)

A federal magistrate judge is forcing Uber to hand over potentially hundreds of thousands of incident files involving reports of passengers who suffered sexual misconduct or sexual assault at the hands of the rideshare service's drivers.

Abbott May Remove Infant Formula for Preemies Off the Market Due to Similac NEC Lawsuits
Abbott May Remove Infant Formula for Preemies Off the Market Due to Similac NEC Lawsuits (Posted yesterday)

Abbott Laboratories is considering removing Similac infant formula products designed for preterm babies from the market, as it faces hundreds of lawsuits claiming the products increase the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, which puts newborns at a high risk of permanent injuries and death.

Information About Suboxone Dental Claims To Be Exchanged By Parties in MDL
Information About Suboxone Dental Claims To Be Exchanged By Parties in MDL (Posted 2 days ago)

A federal judge has ordered parties involved in Suboxone dental decay lawsuits to submit proposals for exchanging information that will guide the selection of representative bellwether claims for early test trials.