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Systematic review
Antiepileptic drug use during pregnancy: sodium valproate is associated with lower offspring IQ
  1. Dimitrios Arkilo1,
  2. Eleni Okeanis Vaou2
  1. 1Minnesota Epilepsy Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA;
  2. 2Noran Neurological Clinic, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  1. Correspondence to : Dr Dimitrios Arkilo, Minnesota Epilepsy Group, 225 Smith Ave N, Suite 201, St Paul, Minneapolis, MN 55102, USA; arkdimi{at}

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Implications for practice and research

  • The individual impact of prenatal exposure for each antiepileptic drug on cognitive outcomes differs.

  • IQ is reduced in children exposed to sodium valproate compared to other commonly prescribed antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).

  • Effective reproductive life planning and pre-conception counselling may help to reduce the exposure of a developing embryo and fetus to sodium valproate.


The individual impact of each drug on cognitive outcomes, such as the developmental and IQs varies, with reports showing that IQ is affected in children exposed to sodium valproate compared to phenytoin, carbamazepine and lamotrigine.1 Some research has demonstrated that children exposed to sodium valproate during pregnancy had …

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  • Competing interests None.