In the February 2011 Issue of Annals of Neurology, Drs. Linnebank and colleagues from the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, and the University Hospital in Bonn, Germany, present an interesting analysis looking at 2,730 individuals treated with seizure drugs and 170 untreated patients with epilepsy and 200 healthy individuals. The investigators found that treatment with carbamazepine, gabapentin, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin, primidone, or valproate was associated with lower levels of folate. Vitamin B12 serum levels were higher in patients treated with valproic acid compared with the entire group of untreated patients and healthy controls. The folate and vitamin B12 levels below the normal range were associated with changes in blood counts. The investigators concluded that it is essential that individuals that are on one of these seizure medications should have their B12 and folic acid levels checked. If their levels are found to be low, it is also important to supplement individuals.
This study is an important one, because it is a reminder that there are always potential complications associated with antiepileptic drug use. Routine supplementation of both men and women with folic acid and vitamin B12 may be essential and should be looked for by healthcare professionals who are caring for individuals with seizures.
Joseph Sirven, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 4/15/11
Article from the April 2011 Epilepsy.com Spotlight Newsletter. Other articles in this issue inclue: