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Epilepsia. 2006 Dec;47(12):1999-2010.

Seizures and antiepileptic drugs: does exposure alter normal brain development?

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Division of Child Neurology and Pediatric Regional Epilepsy Program, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Seizures and antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) affect brain development and have long-term neurological consequences. The specific molecular and cellular changes, the precise timing of their influence during brain development, and the full extent of the long-term consequences of seizures and AEDs exposure have not been established. This review critically assesses both the basic and clinical science literature on the effects of seizures and AEDs on the developing brain and finds that evidence exists to support the hypothesis that both seizures and antiepileptic drugs influence a variety of biological process, at specific times during development, which alter long-term cognition and epilepsy susceptibility. More research, both clinical and experimental, is needed before changes in current clinical practice, based on the scientific data, can be recommended.

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