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13 June 2016

Antiepileptic drugs inhibit growth velocity in children, study finds

A study has found that the use of some antiepileptic drugs in children may slow down their rate of growth, resulting in shorter stature.

The study, published in BMC Pediatrics found that 73 children diagnosed and treated  for epilepsy using antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) valproate and oxcarbazepine at the Tri-Service General Hospital of Taiwan Pediatrics Department displayed a significantly decreased rate of growth.

The study

Researchers treated 40 boys and 33 girls, aged one to 18 years with valproate, oxcarbazepine or a combination of both, and all of the participants were seizure- free for six months before the end of the study. 

Previously, claims that epilepsy drugs can lead to children being shorter have been attributed to immobility among many children with severe epilepsy, however this study in Taiwan tested only children who could walk.

Study allowed for normal growth rate changes

The children were also grouped by age into pre-pubescent, pubescent and post-pubescent to allow for normal changes in growth rates over time.

Researchers used two markers for bone growth to measure bone resorption  (reabsorption) and bone formation. 

Early childhood most affected by slowed growth velocity

The study found that growth velocity slowed among all the children over the course of the research period. This trend was most pronounced in early childhood and less significant in puberty and post puberty, when growth slows naturally.  

AEDs interfering with bone regeneration

The findings indicated that AEDs are interfering with bone regeneration resulting in the decreased growth velocity among children taking AEDs, even in the short term.

The study authors also stressed that the study sample was relatively small and that a larger scale investigation would be required to substantiate their findings. 


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