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Valproic acid may lead to weight gain in women with epilepsy

13 August, 2002

A study of women with epilepsy, published in the Journal of Neurology, suggests that taking valproic acid may lead to weight gain.

Researchers from University Hospital Innsbruck studied 105 women who had been taking carbamazepine or valproate, to report on the levels of obesity and polycystic ovaries (PCOs).

The frequency of PCOs in the women tested (27 per cent) was equivalent to the level of PCOs in general population. However, the average Body Mass Indicator was higher in women taking valproic acid (24.4 kg/m2) than women taking carbamazepine (22.9 kg/m2).

The researchers conclude that valproic acid increases glucose stimulated pancreatic insulin secretion, which might be followed by an increase in body weight.