In the February 2011 issue of Annals of Neurology, Drs. Linnebank and colleagues from the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland and the University Hospital in Bonn, Germany, present an interesting study looking at 2,730 people treated with antiepileptic drugs and 170 untreated people with epilepsy and 200 healthy individuals.
The investigators found that treatment with carbamazepine, gabapentin, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin, primidone or valproate was associated with lower levels of folate. Vitamin B12 serum levels were higher in people treated with sodium valproate compared with the entire group of untreated people and healthy controls. The folate and vitamin B12 levels below the normal range were associated with changes in blood counts.
The investigators concluded that it is essential that people who are taking antiepileptic drugs should have their B12 and folic acid levels checked. If their levels are found to be low, it is also important to supplement individuals. This study is a reminder that there are always potential complications associated with antiepileptic drug use. Routine supplementation of both men and women with folic acid and vitamin B12 may be essential and should be looked for by healthcare professionals who are caring for people with epilepsy.
(As reported in Epilepsy 360 by Epilepsy Action Australia)