Impact of In Utero Exposure to Antiepileptic Drugs on Neonatal Brain Function

Anton Tokariev*, Michael Breakspear, Mari Videman, Susanna Stjerna, Lianne H. Scholtens, Martijn P. Van Den Heuvel, Luca Cocchi, Sampsa Vanhatalo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In utero brain development underpins brain health across the lifespan but is vulnerable to physiological and pharmacological perturbation. Here, we show that antiepileptic medication during pregnancy impacts on cortical activity during neonatal sleep, a potent indicator of newborn brain health. These effects are evident in frequency-specific functional brain networks and carry prognostic information for later neurodevelopment. Notably, such effects differ between different antiepileptic drugs that suggest neurodevelopmental adversity from exposure to antiepileptic drugs and not maternal epilepsy per se. This work provides translatable bedside metrics of brain health that are sensitive to the effects of antiepileptic drugs on postnatal neurodevelopment and carry direct prognostic value.

Original languageEnglish
Article number338
Pages (from-to)2385-2397
Number of pages13
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number11
Early online date29 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
L.C. was supported by National Health and Medical Research Council (1138711 and 2001283). M.P.v.d.H. was supported by an ALW open (ALWOP.179) and VIDI (452-16-015) grant fromthe Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and an ERC Consolidator of the European Research Council (101001062).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press.


  • antiepileptic drug
  • brain network
  • infant
  • neurodevelopment
  • neurology


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