Valproate is a a chemical compound used as an anticonvulsant in the treatment of epilepsy.
A presentation recently delivered at the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society advised that children born to mothers with epilepsy treated with valproate during pregnancy are at an increased risk for autism.
The study included 655,691 children born to 428,431 mothers between 1996 and 2006. Mothers with epilepsy, who redeemed a prescription for valproate medication between 30 days before the estimated conception day and the day of birth, were identified, as were their children with autism.
Researchers found that children exposed to valproate during pregnancy had more than double the relative risk of autism, compared with children not exposed to antiepileptic medication during pregnancy.
A second study found that the risk of autism was greater from valproate than other commonly prescribed anti-epileptic drugs: carbamazepine, lamotrigine, and phenytoin.