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Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 1998;58(3):221-5.

Prenatal exposure to anticonvulsant drugs and spatial ability in adulthood.

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Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Neonatology, Graduate School Neurosciences, The Netherlands.


By disturbing steroid hormone balances in the fetus, the anticonvulsant drugs phenobarbital and phenytoin may affect certain aspects of cognitive functioning. In order to test this hypothesis, we studied hormone related cognitive functioning in 72 men and 75 women who had been prenatally exposed to these drugs and equal numbers of matched control subjects. The groups did not differ on word fluency, dichotic listening and a Water Level Test. On Card Rotations, however, anticonvulsant-exposed males and females obtained significantly lower scores than control subjects. These results suggest that in both males and females prenatal exposure to phenobarbital and phenytoin may affect holistic spatial processing.

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