In Brief

April 20, 2009

Epilepsy drug during pregnancy bad for IQ

Toddlers of moms who took the epilepsy drug valproate during pregnancy had lower IQs than the children of women who used other anti-seizure medicines, according to a new study.

The valproate children had IQ scores six to nine points lower by age 3, said the study's lead author, Dr. Kimford Meador of Emory University.

The drug, also sold as Depakote, had previously been linked to birth defects. Women of childbearing age have long been advised to avoid it.

In the study, researchers followed pregnant women in the U.S. and United Kingdom between 1999 and 2004. The results are based on about 260 of their children.

Toddlers whose mothers had taken valproate had IQs of 92, on average. In contrast, IQ scores were in the range of 98 to 101 for children of women who had taken lamotrigine, phenytoin and carbamazepine. IQ tests are designed so a child of average intelligence scores 100.

Associated Press

Diabetics, dementia

People with diabetes whose blood sugar plummets so low that they have to go to a hospital are likelier to get dementia later in life, a new study shows.

The Kaiser Permanente study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed the medical records of more than 16,000 diabetics throughout Northern California. Those who went to an emergency room once or were hospitalized once for low blood sugar had at least a 29 percent greater chance of being diagnosed later with dementia.

Those who had three hospital or emergency room visits were more than twice as likely to later develop dementia.


Heart-healthy lists

What we know for sure about diet and what protects the heart is a relatively short list. That's the conclusion of new research based on an analysis of nearly 200 studies involving millions of people.

Vegetables, nuts and the Mediterranean diet made the grocery list of "good" heart foods. On the "bad" list: starchy carbs like white bread and trans fats. The "question mark" list includes meat, eggs, milk and other foods for which there's not yet strong evidence about whether they're good or bad for the heart.

The study, appearing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, doesn't actually read like a shopping list. It's a complicated explanation of how the researchers rated 189 prior studies on the topic. In short, when multiple studies on a food or diet showed a strong link with better heart health, that put the food or diet at the top of the list.

Associated Press

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