Mothers' Epilepsy Drug May Lower IQs of Kids

Study urges caution for popular valproate
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2009 6:03 PM CDT
Pregnant women should not take the epilepsy drug valproate as their first choice, a new study warns.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – Children born to women taking the popular epilepsy drug valproate have notably lower IQs than other kids, a new study shows. The anti-seizure drug, sold generically and under the brand name Depakote, also is prescribed for migraines, pain, and psychiatric disorders, the New York Times reports. Doctors involved with the study say valproate should never be the first drug precribed for women of child-bearing age.

“My thought is that if I make a mistake and the patient has a breakthrough seizure, I can change the medication and switch the patient to valproate,” said the lead author. “If I put the patient on valproate as a first choice and the baby has cognitive impairment or a malformation, I can’t repair that.” The study found that toddlers had IQs about 9 points lower than kids whose mothers took other epilepsy drugs.