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Dev Neuropsychol. 2012;37(1):1-29. doi: 10.1080/87565641.2011.589483.

Neurobehavioral consequences of prenatal antiepileptic drug exposure.

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  • 1School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.


Despite elevated rates of birth defects associated with prenatal antiepileptic drug exposure, pharmacotherapy is typically continued throughout pregnancy because of the risks posed to mother and child by recurrent seizures. Emerging data suggest that prenatal exposure to valproate or polytherapy may also be associated with increased risk of cognitive impairment. However, our understanding of the longer-term sequelae of prenatal antiepileptic drug exposure remains incomplete. Improved understanding of the neurobehavioral consequences of prenatal antiepileptic drug exposure is essential to ensure accurate information is available for women with epilepsy planning a pregnancy, and to achieve optimal outcomes for mothers and children.

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