Epilepsy Meds During Pregnancy May Raise Autism Risk in Child | Health News

By Serena Gordon HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

FRIDAY, Oct. 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Women who take the epilepsy medication valproic acid during pregnancy have more than twice the risk of having a child with autism, new research suggests.

The study also found that taking the drug during pregnancy almost doubled the odds that a child would have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), compared to children who weren’t exposed to the drug during pregnancy.

“These women are in a bind. Valproic acid is a first-line drug for epilepsy, and having uncontrolled epilepsy is also a risk to mom and baby. We’re not trying to point a finger at valproic acid, but we did see these associations,” said study author Kelsey Wiggs. She’s a doctoral candidate in the department of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Wiggs noted that the study wasn’t designed to prove cause-and-effect relationships, only associations.

She added that the study is important because of the associations it didn’t find, as well.

“We didn’t find an association with the antiseizure medications lamotrigine and carbamazepine,” Wiggs said.

Between three and seven women out of every 1,000 pregnant women have epilepsy — a seizure disorder. The main treatment for epilepsy is antiseizure medications, according to background information in the study. But valproic acid has been linked to a higher risk of birth defects and lower cognitive test scores (IQ and other tests), according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The drug has also been associated with a higher risk of ADHD and autism in smaller studies, the researchers noted.

The latest study included nearly 15,000 children who were born to women with epilepsy between 1996 and 2011. Nearly one in four of the mothers took antiseizure medication during their first trimester of pregnancy.

About 10% of the women took carbamazepine and 7% took the medication lamotrigine. Five percent of the women took valproic acid (699 children).

Of those who were exposed to valproic acid in pregnancy, 36 developed autism by the age of 10. There were just over 11,000 kids who weren’t exposed to any antiseizure medication. Just 154 of them were diagnosed with autism.

Fifty-four of the kids exposed to valproic acid developed ADHD by 10. In those with no exposure to the drugs, 251 out of 11,000 were diagnosed with ADHD, the study authors said.

Wiggs said it’s not clear how valproic acid exposure might trigger autism or ADHD. She said that the medication is associated with the increased metabolism of the nutrient folate. Folate is important in the development of nervous system cells, so it’s possible that may play a role.

Dr. Steven Pacia, vice chair of neurology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., said that folate might be one factor, but he suspects there are likely multiple reasons why this medication is associated with higher rates of autism and ADHD.

Pacia said this study is the largest to link valproic acid to autism and ADHD, but that the drug was already known to

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How Does Complementary and Alternative Medicine Benefit Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism is a disorder that responds best to treatment that is holistic and addresses all aspects of the condition. Recent research has shown a benefit for what is considered complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) or integrative medicine that focuses on pairing natural treatment approaches with behavioral therapies and treatments. This approach facilitates a more balanced treatment plan as it allows families, like yours, to treat the child with autism as just that – a child affected by autism.

Autism is diagnosed based on criteria from a diagnostic manual of mental disorders however, it is precisely clear that many of these symptoms are medical – not psychological.

Common medical problems in children on the autism spectrum can include:
• Digestive problems: reflux, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, bloated abdomen
• Seizures
• Allergies, asthma, and eczema
• Food reactions
• Sleep problems
• Infections
• Poor nutrition
• Poor growth

Children with autistic-spectrum disorder have health issues that are very complex. This is the reason that the approach to help these children requires a wide variety of diagnostic tests to scientifically assess the cause of their health issues.

No two individuals experience autism in the same way, and individuals do not respond to the same treatments. This is the reason it is of utmost importance that each child with autism spectrum disorder be evaluated individually.

This is the reason that the approach to help these children requires a wide variety of diagnostic tests to scientifically assess the cause of their health issues. Tests that involve gastrointestinal functioning, allergens: both food and environmental, nutritional needs and toxin levels are paramount to identifying the causes of their symptoms and embarking on a plan to improve health. A plan may involve some or all of the following: dietary changes, use of herbal, homeopathic and nutritional supplements, as well as natural and complimentary medicines as needed to support healing and improve their health and functioning.

Much of this information is not well recognized by most of the medical community and so what is available is found in books or online. This can leave parents feeling frustrated as knowing what to do first, how to prioritize therapies, dietary changes and what supplements to use is subjective without the proper testing.

Diet is an important component for children on the Autism spectrum.

The "Autism Diet" has been around for many years and has helped many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) improve their health, and functioning. Research shows that 91% of autistic children improved when following the autism diet. According to the Autism Research Institute, nutritional treatments show great success in autism treatment. They suggest an autism diet of avoiding yeast, glutens, casein, and any allergens.

Since 91% of children with autism spectrum disorder improve on the autism diet, this is something that parents can implement without the consult of a doctor or health care professional.

To help implement this diet here is a list of the top 10 foods to eat or avoid according …

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