Public Release: 

Study examines association between prenatal exposure to antiepileptic drugs and ADHD in children

JAMA Network Open

Bottom Line: This study examined whether prenatal exposure to valproate and other antiepileptic drugs was associated with increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. More than 913,000 children in Denmark were included in the observational study, and exposure to antiepileptic drugs was defined as pregnancies where mothers redeemed one or more prescriptions for the medications. In total, 580 children were identified as having been exposed to valproate during pregnancy and, of them, 49 (8.4 percent) had ADHD; among more than 912,000 children not exposed to valproate about 29,000 (3.2 percent) had ADHD. The study used registry data and it is not known whether the women used the medication and how much was actually taken. The absolute 15-year risk of ADHD in children exposed to valproate in pregnancy was higher than those not exposed to the drug. There were no associations found between other antiepileptic drugs in the study and ADHD.


Authors: Jakob Christensen, M.D., Ph.D., Dr.Med.Sci., Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark, and coauthors

Related Material: The commentary, "Fetal Valproate Exposure and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder," by Kimford J. Meador, M.D., Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, is also available on the For The Media website.

To Learn More: The full study is available on the For The Media website.


Editor's Note: The article includes conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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About JAMA Network Open: JAMA Network Open is the new online-only open access general medical journal from the JAMA Network. Every Friday, the journal publishes peer-reviewed clinical research and commentary in more than 40 medical and health subject areas. Every article is free online from the day of publication.

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