AED (2011-) is a study project that investigates whether antiepileptic medication during pregnancy affects the development of the infant brain and whether this medication affects the later development of a child. The first results concerning infant brain development have been published, and the project is currently focusing on the assessment of neuropsychological development at preschool age. The first phase of this project comprised a part of the PhD project of Dr. Mari Videman.
Antiepileptic medication is considered necessary as untreated epilepsy may cause harm to both the mother and the fetus though prenatal exposure to some of the antiepileptic drugs (for example valproate acid) is associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations and cognitive dysfunction. The aim of the AED study was to investigate whether signs of adverse drug effects on brain function could be detected already during the first weeks of life. The study involved 56 newborns with prenatal exposure to antiepileptic medication and 67 unexposed controls. Newborns exposed to antiepileptic drugs in utero had reduced limb and axial tone, and were less irritable than the control newborns.They also showed altered cortical activity for example in the communication between brain hemispheres and in the cortical rhythms across a wide range of frequencies.
Effects of prenatal antiepileptic drug exposure on newborn brain activity. Mari Videman; Anton Tokariev; Susanna Stjerna; Reina Roivainen; Eija Gaily; Sampsa Vanhatalo. Epilepsia. 2016 Feb;57(2):252-62. doi: 10.1111/epi.13281. Epub 2015 Dec 25.