Public Release: 

A child's IQ could be affected by maternal epilepsy

Effect on fetal brain development may influence adult intelligence and height

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Bergen, Norway - September 11, 2007 - A history of maternal epilepsy and its associated treatment may be linked to impaired intelligence later in life, says a new study published in Epilepsia. Dr. Nina Oyen, M.D., of the University of Bergen and Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Bergen, Norway, investigated the I.Q. levels of sons born to mothers with and without epilepsy, and found a correlation between intelligence and the illness.

Drawing on extensive data on maternal epilepsy reported to the Medical Birth Registry of Norway and adult I.Q. scores and anthropometric measures taken later in life, the study monitored male children until the age of nineteen, providing a long-term look at the possible effects of maternal epilepsy on fetal brain development.

The study finds that almost twenty years after birth, the sons of mothers who suffered from epilepsy before or during pregnancy exhibited reduced I.Q. scores when compared to men whose mothers did not have epilepsy. A history of maternal epilepsy was also found to be associated with shorter height.

"Our results underline the need for population-based registries with complete long-term follow-up of infants with prenatal exposure to phenobarbital and phenytoin, drugs that are still widely used in many countries," says Oyen, noting that studying the effects of exposure to newer medications is also important. Information on the specific antiepileptic drugs used by the epileptic mothers of children in the study was not available. "It remains to be seen whether the newer antiepileptic drugs are safer to offspring exposed during fetal life."

###

This study is published in Vol. 48 Issue 9 (September 2007) of Epilepsia. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact medicalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Nina Oyen, M.D., MPH, is at present Senior researcher in the Department of Epidemiology Research at Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Senior consultant at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Bergen, Norway. She can be reached for questions at noy@ssi.dk.

Epilepsia is the leading, most authoritative source for current clinical and research results on all aspects of epilepsy. As the journal of the International League Against Epilepsy, subscribers every month will review scientific evidence and clinical methodology in: clinical neurology, neurophysiology, molecular biology, neuroimaging, neurochemistry, neurosurgery, pharmacology, neuroepidemiology, and therapeutic trials. In each issue subscribers will find original peer reviewed articles, progress in epilepsy research, brief communications, editorial commentaries, special supplements, meeting reports, book reviews, and announcements. For more information, please visit www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/epi.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.