The prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders in children prenatally exposed to antiepileptic drugs

Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Liverpool, , Liverpool, UK.
Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry (Impact Factor: 6.81). 01/2013; 84(6). DOI: 10.1136/jnnp-2012-304270
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to compare the prevalence of diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders in children exposed, in utero, to different antiepileptic drug treatments. A prospective cohort of women with epilepsy and a control group of women without epilepsy were recruited from antenatal clinics. The children of this cohort were followed longitudinally until 6 years of age (n=415). Diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder was made independently of the research team. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed an increase in risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in children exposed to monotherapy sodium valproate (VPA) (6/50, 12.0%; aOR 6.05, 95%CI 1.65 to 24.53, p=0.007) and in those exposed to polytherapy with sodium VPA (3/20, 15.0%; aOR 9.97, 95% CI 1.82 to 49.40, p=0.005) compared with control children (4/214; 1.87%). Autistic spectrum disorder was the most frequent diagnosis. No significant increase was found among children exposed to carbamazepine (1/50) or lamotrigine (2/30). An accumulation of evidence demonstrates that the risks associated with prenatal sodium VPA exposure include an increased prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders. Whether such disorders are discrete or represent the severe end of a continuum of altered neurodevelopmental functioning requires further investigation. Replication and extension of this research is required to investigate the mechanism(s) underpinning the relationship. Finally, the increased likelihood of neurodevelopmental disorders should be communicated to women for whom sodium VPA is a treatment option.

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Available from: Rebecca Bromley, Sep 27, 2015
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    • "Characterized by impairments in social interactions, communication, and repetitive behaviors, the etiology of autism is not entirely known, but genetic and environmental components have been hypothesized to be involved [1] [2]. There is an accumulating body of evidence that in utero exposure to valproic acid (VPA), a teratogenic anticonvulsant, leads to an increased risk and incidence of autism [3] [4] [5]. In fact, several retrospective human and case studies have documented difficulties in attentional, social, language, and motor abilities among children prenatally exposed to VPA, leading to the idea that valproate exposure during fetal development greatly alters neurodevelopment, including emotional and cognitive functioning [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Autism is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder with a population prevalence of 1 in 68, and dramatically increasing. While no single pharmacologic intervention has successfully targeted the core symptoms of autism, emerging evidence suggests that postnatal environmental manipulations may offer greater therapeutic efficacy. Massage therapy, or tactile stimulation (TS), early in life has repeatedly been shown to be an effective, low-cost, therapeutic approach in ameliorating the cognitive, social, and emotional symptoms of autism. While early TS treatment attenuates many of the behavioral aberrations among children with autism, the neuroanatomical correlates driving such changes are unknown. The present study assessed the therapeutic effects of early TS treatment on behavior and neuroanatomy using the valproic acid (VPA) rodent model of autism. Rats were prenatally exposed to VPA on gestational day 12.5 and received TS shortly following birth. Whereas TS reversed almost all the VPA-induced alterations in neuroanatomy, it failed to do so behaviorally. The TS VPA animals, when compared to VPA animals, did not exhibit altered or improved behavior in the delayed non-match-to-sample T-maze, Whishaw tray reaching, activity box, or elevated plus maze tasks. Anatomically, however, there were significant increases in dendritic branching and spine density in the medial prefrontal cortex, orbital frontal cortex, and amygdala in VPA animals following early TS treatment, suggesting a complete reversal or remediation of the VPA-induced effects in these regions. The results suggest that postnatal TS, during a critical period in development, acts as a powerful reorganization tool that can ameliorate the neuroanatomical consequences of prenatal VPA exposure. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Behavioural Brain Research 12/2014; 282. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2014.12.055 · 3.03 Impact Factor
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    • "The authors of the two recent papers discussed above also noted a need to define the mechanism behind the increased risk of ASD with VPA exposure. Several questions arise as to the relationship between environmental exposure to chemicals such as VPA in the manifestation of ASD [33, 34]. Christensen et al. suggested several mechanisms by which VPA may increase the risk of ASD that need further study, including interference in neurotransmitter function, neuronal apoptosis or plasticity, histone deacetylase inhibition, and disruption of folic acid metabolism [34]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Two recent epidemiological investigations in children exposed to valproic acid (VPA) treatment in utero have reported a significant risk associated with neurodevelopmental disorders and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in particular. Parallel to this work, there is a growing body of animal research literature using VPA as an animal model of ASD. In this focused review we first summarize the epidemiological evidence linking VPA to ASD and then comment on two important neurobiological findings linking VPA to ASD clinicopathology, namely, accelerated or early brain overgrowth and hyperexcitable networks. Improving our understanding of how the drug VPA can alter early development of neurological systems will ultimately improve our understanding of ASD.
    12/2013; 2013(2):712758. DOI:10.1155/2013/712758
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    ABSTRACT: Valproate is used for the treatment of epilepsy and other neuropsychological disorders and may be the only treatment option for women of childbearing potential. However, prenatal exposure to valproate may increase the risk of autism. To determine whether prenatal exposure to valproate is associated with an increased risk of autism in offspring. Population-based study of all children born alive in Denmark from 1996 to 2006. National registers were used to identify children exposed to valproate during pregnancy and diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (childhood autism [autistic disorder], Asperger syndrome, atypical autism, and other or unspecified pervasive developmental disorders). We analyzed the risks associated with all autism spectrum disorders as well as childhood autism. Data were analyzed by Cox regression adjusting for potential confounders (maternal age at conception, paternal age at conception, parental psychiatric history, gestational age, birth weight, sex, congenital malformations, and parity). Children were followed up from birth until the day of autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, death, emigration, or December 31, 2010, whichever came first. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Absolute risk (cumulative incidence) and the hazard ratio (HR) of autism spectrum disorder and childhood autism in children after exposure to valproate in pregnancy. Of 655,615 children born from 1996 through 2006, 5437 were identified with autism spectrum disorder, including 2067 with childhood autism. The mean age of the children at end of follow-up was 8.84 years (range, 4-14; median, 8.85). The estimated absolute risk after 14 years of follow-up was 1.53% (95% CI, 1.47%-1.58%) for autism spectrum disorder and 0.48% (95% CI, 0.46%-0.51%) for childhood autism. Overall, the 508 children exposed to valproate had an absolute risk of 4.42% (95% CI, 2.59%-7.46%) for autism spectrum disorder (adjusted HR, 2.9 [95% CI, 1.7-4.9]) and an absolute risk of 2.50% (95% CI, 1.30%-4.81%) for childhood autism (adjusted HR, 5.2 [95% CI, 2.7-10.0]). When restricting the cohort to the 6584 children born to women with epilepsy, the absolute risk of autism spectrum disorder among 432 children exposed to valproate was 4.15% (95% CI, 2.20%-7.81%) (adjusted HR, 1.7 [95% CI, 0.9-3.2]), and the absolute risk of childhood autism was 2.95% (95% CI, 1.42%-6.11%) (adjusted HR, 2.9 [95% CI, 1.4-6.0]) vs 2.44% (95% CI, 1.88%-3.16%) for autism spectrum disorder and 1.02% (95% CI, 0.70%-1.49%) for childhood autism among 6152 children not exposed to valproate. Maternal use of valproate during pregnancy was associated with a significantly increased risk of autism spectrum disorder and childhood autism in the offspring, even after adjusting for maternal epilepsy. For women of childbearing potential who use antiepileptic medications, these findings must be balanced against the treatment benefits for women who require valproate for epilepsy control.
    JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 04/2013; 309(16):1696-703. DOI:10.1001/jama.2013.2270 · 35.29 Impact Factor
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