Valproate, a drug used to treat epilepsy, has been linked with an increased risk of autism if the mother uses this drug during pregnancy according to a new study. The study, which is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was conducted on a large subject group in Denmark.
The lead study author, neurologist Jakob Christensen, described the risk as “the absolute risk of being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder was 4.4 percent in children exposed to valproate compared to 1.5 percent in children not exposed to valproate. The absolute risk of being diagnosed with childhood autism was 2.5 percent in children exposed to valproate compared to 0.5 percent in children not exposed to valproate.”
Christensen emphasized that the majority of women who took valproate during pregnancy did not have children with autism. The study authors cautioned that the benefits of the drug for pregnant women had to be weighed against the potential risk.
Interestingly, the report on the study noted that Valproate was already associated with a risk of birth defects when used during pregnancy.
For more information and the source of the above quote please see: