The research published recently online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry recommends that mums-to-be need to be fully informed of the risks of treatment, but these should be weighed against the need for effective seizure control during pregnancy, say the researchers.
Women with epilepsy who need drugs to control their seizures are currently advised to continue taking them during pregnancy because convulsions can harm both mother and the unborn child.
Several studies indicate that epilepsy drugs, particularly sodium valproate, taken during pregnancy, are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, but few of these studies have been based on real-life population circumstances (population data).
To address this, the researchers from the Neurology Research Group in Swansea University Medical School used routinely-collected healthcare data from the Secure Anonymous Information Linkage (SAIL) databank and national school test (key stage 1) data to compare the academic performance of 7 year olds in Wales born to mothers with epilepsy. SAIL contains the anonymized primary care health records of 80 percent of Welsh family doctors, corresponding to around 77 percent of the Welsh population (2.3 million people).