Prenatal exposure to the antiepileptic drug Valproate increases the risk of ADHD in children, a study from Aarhus University Hospital shows.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, examined whether prenatal exposure to valproate and other antiepileptic drugs was associated with increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

More than 913,000 children in Denmark were included in the observational study and exposure to antiepileptic drugs was defined as pregnancies where mothers redeemed one or more prescriptions for the medications.

In total, 580 children were identified as having been exposed to valproate during pregnancy and, of them, 49 (8.4 percent) had ADHD; among more than 912,000 children not exposed to valproate 3.2 percent (about 29,000) had ADHD.

The study used registry data and it's not known whether the women used the medication and how much was actually taken. The absolute 15-year risk of ADHD associated with children exposed to valproate in pregnancy was higher than those not exposed to the drug.

There were no associations found between other antiepileptic drugs in the study and ADHD.


Contact: Jakob Christensen, M.D., Ph.D., Dr.Med.Sci., Department of Neurology, Aarhus University Hospital, e-mail: jakob@farm.au.dk