In Utero Exposure to Levetiracetam vs. Valproate: Development and Language at Three Years of Age

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In the January 8, 2014, issue of the journal Neurology ahead of print, Doctors Shallcross and colleagues, on behalf of the Liverpool and Manchester Neurodevelopment Group and the United Kingdom Epilepsy and Pregnancy Register, present an important analysis that compares the cognitive and language development of children born to women with epilepsy who were exposed in utero to levetiracetam or sodium valproate to children born to women without epilepsy who were not taking medication during their pregnancy.

  • The children, aged between 36 and 54 months, were recruited from the United Kingdom and were assessed using two measurements, Griffiths’ Mental Development Scales and the Reynell Language Development Scale.
  • The study included 53 children who were exposed to levetiracetam while in utero, 44 children who were exposed to valproic acid in utero and 131 children who were not exposed to medication.
  • Children exposed to valproic acid scored on average 15.8 points below children exposed to levetiracetam on measures of gross motor skills; 6.4 points below on comprehension language abilities; and 9.5 points below on expressive language abilities.
  • Children exposed to levetiracetam in utero did not differ from unexposed controlled children.
  • The authors conclude that children exposed to levetiracetam in utero were superior in their language and motor development in comparison to children exposed to valproic acid.
Authored by: Joseph I. Sirven MD on 3/2014

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