February 19, 2018 in JAMA Neurology: “Association Between Prenatal Valproate Exposure and Performance on Standardized Language and Mathematics Tests in School-aged Children” —a study by researchers at Aarhus University (Denmark) led by Lars Skou Elkjaer, MD— concludes:

“Prenatal maternal use of valproate was associated with poor school performance in primary and lower secondary state education compared with children unexposed to AEDs and children exposed to lamotrigine. Findings of this study further caution against the use of valproate among women of childbearing potential.”

The researchers analyzed data from almost half a million Danish sixth graders, boys and girls,

“including children exposed to the following AEDs in monotherapy: valproate, 253; phenobarbital, 86; oxcarbazepine, 236; lamotrigine, 396; clonazepam, 188; and carbamazepine, 294…. Valproate-exposed children scored worse on the sixth-grade Danish tests (adjusted difference, −0.27 SD; 95% CI, −0.42 to −0.12) and sixth-grade mathematics tests (adjusted difference, −0.33 SD; (95% CI, −0.47 to −0.19) compared with unexposed children and children exposed to lamotrigine (adjusted difference, −0.33 SD; 95% CI, −0.60 to −0.06). Also, children exposed to clonazepam scored worse in the sixth-grade Danish tests (adjusted difference, −0.07 SD; 95% CI, −0.12 to −0.02). Carbamazepine, lamotrigine, phenobarbital, and oxcarbazepine were not linked to poor school performance compared with unexposed children.”

Imagine the attention this study would get if the pregnant women had been using cannabis!