We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
From the JAMA Network |

Breastfeeding and Antiepileptic Drugs

Kimford J. Meador, MD1
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
JAMA. 2014;311(17):1797-1798. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.967.
Text Size: A A A
Published online


JAMA Neurology

Early Child Development and Exposure to Antiepileptic Drugs Prenatally and Through Breastfeeding: A Prospective Cohort Study on Children of Women With Epilepsy

Gyri Veiby, MD; Bernt A. Engelsen, MD, PhD; Nils Erik Gilhus, MD, PhD

Importance Exposure to antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy is associated with adverse effects on psychomotor development.

Objectives To determine whether signs of impaired development appear already during the first months of life in children exposed prenatally to antiepileptic drugs, and to explore potential adverse effects of antiepileptic drug exposure through breastfeeding.

Design, Setting, and Participants Mothers at 13 to 17 weeks of pregnancy were recruited in the population-based, prospective Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study from 1999 to 2009. The mothers reported on their child’s motor and social skills, language, and behavior using items from standardized screening tools at 6 months (n = 78 744), 18 months (n = 61 351), and 36 months (n = 44 147) of age. The mothers also provided detailed information on breastfeeding during the first year.

Main Outcomes and Measures The risk of adverse development in children according to maternal or paternal epilepsy was estimated as the odds ratio with corresponding 95% confidence interval, adjusted for maternal age, parity, education, smoking, breastfeeding, depression/anxiety, folate supplementation, and congenital malformation in the child.

Results At age 6 months, infants of mothers using antiepileptic drugs (n = 223) had a higher risk of impaired fine motor skills compared with the reference group (11.5% vs 4.8%, respectively; odds ratio = 2.1; 95% CI, 1.3-3.2). Use of multiple antiepileptic drugs compared with the reference group was associated with adverse outcome for both fine motor skills (25.0% vs 4.8%, respectively; odds ratio = 4.3; 95% CI, 2.0-9.1) and social skills (22.5% vs 10.2%, respectively; odds ratio = 2.6; 95% CI, 1.2-5.5). Continuous breastfeeding in children of women using antiepileptic drugs was associated with less impaired development at ages 6 and 18 months compared with those with no breastfeeding or breastfeeding for less than 6 months. At 36 months, prenatal antiepileptic drug exposure was associated with adverse development regardless of breastfeeding status during the first year. Children of women with epilepsy who did not use antiepileptic drugs and children of fathers with epilepsy had normal development at 6 months.

Conclusions and Relevance Prenatal exposure to antiepileptic drugs was associated with impaired fine motor skills already at age 6 months, especially when the child was exposed to multiple drugs. There were no harmful effects of breastfeeding. Women with epilepsy should be encouraged to breastfeed their children irrespective of antiepileptic drug treatment.

JAMA Neurol. 2013;70(11):1367-1374. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.4290.

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

First Page Preview

View Large
First page PDF preview




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

1 Citations

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles