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BMJ Publishing Group, BMJ Open, 6(10), p. e034829, 2020

DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-034829



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Risk of early neurodevelopmental outcomes associated with prenatal exposure to the antiepileptic drugs most commonly used during pregnancy: a French nationwide population-based cohort study

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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ObjectivesTo assess the association between prenatal exposure to monotherapy with the antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) most commonly used during pregnancy and the risk of various neurodevelopmental outcomes compared with lamotrigine.DesignNationwide population-based cohort study.SettingFrench national healthcare databases.ParticipantsChildren born alive between 2011 and 2014 and prenatally exposed to AED monotherapy.Primary and secondary outcome measuresOutcomes included neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD), defined by International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision codes F70-F98—pervasive developmental disorders (PDD, F84) and mental retardation (MR, F70-F79) were studied separately—and visits to speech therapists. The reference group comprised children prenatally exposed to lamotrigine. Children were followed until outcome, loss to follow-up, death or 31 December 2016. We performed inverse probability of treatment weighting analyses using the propensity score, which included maternal and infant characteristics. Hazard ratios (HRs) were calculated using Cox models.ResultsThe cohort comprised 9034 children, 2916 of which were exposed to lamotrigine, 1627 to pregabalin, 1246 to clonazepam, 991 to valproic acid (VPA), 621 to levetiracetam, 502 to carbamazepine, 477 to topiramate, 378 to gabapentin and 143 to oxcarbazepine. None of these AEDs, except VPA, was associated with an increased risk of any of the four neurodevelopmental outcomes investigated. Exposure to VPA was associated with increased risks of NDDs (HR=2.7, 95% CI (1.8 to 4.0)), PDD (HR=4.4 (2.1 to 9.3)), MR (HR=3.1 (1.5 to 6.2)) and visits to speech therapists (HR=1.5 (1.1 to 1.9)), with a dose-response relationship.ConclusionsNo increased risk of any of the neurodevelopmental outcomes investigated in this study was observed with prenatal exposure to levetiracetam, pregabalin, oxcarbazepine, topiramate, gabapentin, clonazepam or carbamazepine, compared with lamotrigine. However, this study corroborates the well-known association between maternal use of VPA during pregnancy and the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in the offspring. Longer follow-up is necessary to confirm these findings.