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J Clin Neurosci. 2004 Nov;11(8):854-8.

Critical relationship between sodium valproate dose and human teratogenicity: results of the Australian register of anti-epileptic drugs in pregnancy.

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Department of Medicine, The Australian Centre For Neuropharmacology, Raoul Wallenberg Centre, St. Vincent's Hospital, Fitzroy, 3065 Melbourne, Vic., Australia.


To compare the incidence of foetal malformations (FMs) in pregnant women with epilepsy treated with different anti-epileptic drugs (AED) and doses, and the influence of seizures, family and personal history, and environmental factors. A prospective, observational, community-based cohort study.


A voluntary, Australia-wide, telephone-interview-based register prospectively enrolling three groups of pregnant women: taking AEDs for epilepsy; with epilepsy not taking AEDs; taking AEDs for a non-epileptic indication. Four hundred and fifty eligible women were enrolled over 40 months. Three hundred and ninety six pregnancies had been completed, with 7 sets of twins, for a total of 403 pregnancy outcomes.


354 (87.8%) pregnancy outcomes resulted in a healthy live birth, 26 (6.5%) had a FM, 4 (1%) a death in utero, 1 (0.2%) a premature labour with stillbirth, 14 (3.5%) a spontaneous abortion and 4 lost to follow-up. The FM rate was greater in pregnancies exposed to sodium valproate (VPA) in the first trimester (16.0%) compared with those exposed to all other AEDs (16.0% vs. 2.4%, P < 0.01) or no AEDs (16.0% vs. 3.1%, [Formula: see text] ). The mean daily dose of VPA taken in pregnancy with FMs was significantly greater than in those without (1,975 vs. 1,128 mg, P < 0.01). The incidence of FM with VPA doses >or= 1,100 mg was 30.2% vs. 3.2% with doses <1,100 mg (P <0.01).


There is a dose-effect relationship for FM and exposure to VPA during the first trimester of pregnancy, with higher doses of VPA associated with a significantly greater risk than with lower doses or with other AEDs. These results highlight the need to limit, where possible, the dose of VPA in pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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