Exposure to AEDs in the Womb Does Not Increase the Frequency of GP Visits

Children whose mothers used antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) while pregnant are not more likely to visit their GP during their childhood, according to a population-based study by Danish scientists.

It is important to note that the study only analyzed the frequency of primary healthcare visits and did not take into account complications such as malformations at birth and neurological and psychiatric disorders later in life, found to be associated with the use of AEDs by the mother, in previous studies.

Instead, the present study only looked at the general health of children whose mothers used AEDs while they were pregnant and compared this to that of children who were not exposed to AEDs before birth.

The team of researchers led by Dr Bodil Hammer Bech, at Aarhus University in Denmark identified all babies born in Denmark between 1997 and 2012 and followed them until 31 December 2013, through the Danish National Patient Register. They found that 963,010 babies were born in this period of time.

The researchers obtained information on whether or not the babies were exposed to AEDs before birth from the Danish Register of Medicinal Product Statistics. This revealed that 4,478 children (0.46%) were exposed to AEDs before birth.

The team then analyzed the number of GP visits for reasons other than routine checks and vaccinations. They found that children who were exposed to AEDs before birth had 3% more GP contacts during the study period compared to children who were not exposed to AEDs before birth. This was primarily in the form of phone contacts. The researchers did not find any difference between children who were exposed to AEDs before birth and those who were not, in terms of specific services provided by the GP.

The first author of the study Anne Mette Lund Würtz said in a press release: ”Our results are generally reassuring for women who need to take anti-epilepsy medicine during their pregnancy”.

The analysis took into account factors such as the child’s gender and date of birth, the mother’s age, the family’s income level, education status, the presence of any mental illnesses, the use of psychiatric medicines and insulin, and substance abuse.

The results were published in the scientific journal BMJ Open.

Author: Özge Özkaya

How do AEDs work? from Rose Thompson on Vimeo.

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