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Importance of AED-related bone disease unrecognised by many neurologists

1 October, 2001

The majority of neurologists do not routinely monitor patients taking anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) for bone or mineral disease, despite reports of links between the medication and skeletal problems, according to research published in the Archives of Neurology.

The research group, led by Dr Christine Schneyer of Sinai Hospital, Baltimore, surveyed 404 paediatric neurologists and 624 adult neurologists across the United States.

The results showed that only 41 per cent of pediatric neurologists and 28 per cent of adult neurologists routinely evaluate AED-treated patients for bone and mineral disease.

Of physicians who detect bone disease through diagnostic testing, 40 per cent of pediatric and 37 per cent of adult neurologists prescribe calcium or vitamin D, and about half (54 per cent of pediatric and 57 per cent of adult neurologists) refer patients to specialists.

The researchers admit that as there have been no definitive studies of the link between AEDs and bone disease, many doctors may not be aware of the association, however, they conclude that as there is considerable evidence that bone diseases caused by AEDs can be treated using calcium or vitamin D, raising the awareness of this link with doctors could improve conditions for people with epilepsy.