AED is a study project that investigates whether the antiepileptic medication during pregnancy affects the development of infant brain and whether this medication affects later development of the child.
Antiepileptic medication is considered necessary as untreated epilepsy may cause harm for 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 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 anti epileptic 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.
The observations in the study emphasize the current guidelines: Epilepsy treatment is important for the well-being of both the mother and the child. Furthermore, the benefits and risks of the medication should be considered already when planning pregnancy, and if necessary, changes in the medication should be done with a close follow-up.
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.