Many of the families involved with OACS Ireland have reported that often young men with epilepsy who would like to have children with their partners worry that by taking Sodium Valproate (Epilim) or other anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) for their condition, their child may be harmed. These men have heard about the damage that has been caused to babies due to their mothers having been prescribed Epilim to take when they were pregnant and they worry that by taking the drug when their partner becomes pregnant the baby might be likewise harmed.
For these men, a major new study from Sweden brings very good news.
The study “Paternal exposure to antiepileptic drugs and offspring outcomes: a nationwide population-based cohort study in Sweden “(Tomson,Muraca & Razaz 2020) is the first major study that concludes that ‘Paternal AED use during conception is not associated with adverse outcomes in the offspring’. This study was led by Professor Torbjorn Tomson one of the world’s leading epileptologists and an expert in epilepsy and pregnancy. The study looked specifically at the incidence rates of major congenital malformations, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and intellectual disability in the children of men taking AEDs at conception compared to men not taking any. A huge cohort of 1,144,795 pregnancies was included over the period from 2006 to 2016 with 741,726 fathers involved. Of these, 4,544 births were to 2,955 fathers with epilepsy on AEDS. The study looked at all AEDs but specifically at Sodium Valproate and Carbamazepine (Tegretol) due to their known high teratogenicity.
One note of caution from the study is to warn men with epilepsy that their child may inherit all traits from its father in the normal way and this includes any elements related to his epilepsy although, of course, relatively few people inherit their epilepsy. The study only relates to effect of AEDs on the child.
There had been three other papers which examined this area in the past twenty years but in sample size or examination of specific AEDs or specific malformations or disorders, none where as comprehensive as this study.