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  • Posted May 30, 2024

Will Epilepsy Meds Taken in Pregnancy Affect a Child's Creativity?

Newer epilepsy drugs taken while pregnant won't affect the creative thinking of children, an effect that had been observed in older medications, a new study reports.

Researchers found no difference in creativity scores at age 4 between kids of mothers with epilepsy and those of moms without the disorder, researchers reported May 29 in the journal Neurology.

They also found no differences in creativity when comparing different levels of anti-seizure medications found in epileptic mothers' blood samples during the third trimester.

However, they did find that higher concentrations of the drugs during the third trimester is linked to kids' poorer performance on tests of executive function -- the skills like working memory, flexibility and inhibition control that help people manage everyday tasks.

This link was mainly associated with exposure to the anti-seizure drug levetiracetam, researchers said.

“Our findings highlight that even for epilepsy medications that are generally considered to be safe in pregnancy, dose adjustments should be made with a goal of reaching an optimal balance between controlling seizures and the minimizing negative effects on the developing child,” said researcher Dr. Kimford Meador, a professor of neurology with Stanford University.

For the study, researchers tested 251 children of moms with epilepsy and 73 children of mothers without the disorder.

Most moms with epilepsy were taking one medication to help control their seizures, researchers found.

The children were tested at age 4 with a test in which they were provided a shape or figure and asked to either complete the drawing or add their own illustrations.

Researchers said more study is needed to fully suss out the potential effects of anti-seizure drugs on children in the womb.

“There is still so much to learn about the impact of a mother's epilepsy medications on their child's creative development,” Meador said in a journal news release. “More studies are needed, especially in older children, to assess the full effect of these medications on childhood development.”

More information

Harvard Medical School has more on epilepsy.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, May 29, 2024

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