• Epilepsy;
  • Children;
  • Thyroid function;
  • Carbamazepine;
  • Oxcarbazepine;
  • Valproate

Summary: Purpose: Antiepileptic drugs may affect the serum thyroid hormone concentrations. The aim of this study was to evaluate thyroid function in 78 girls taking carbamazepine (CBZ), oxcarbazepine (OXC), or valproate (VPA) monotherapy for epilepsy and after withdrawal of the treatment.

Methods: Forty-one girls taking VPA, 19 taking CBZ, and 18 taking OXC for epilepsy, as well as 54 healthy age-matched controls, aged 8 to 18 years, participated in the study. All the girls were examined clinically, and their pubertal stage was assessed. Blood samples were obtained for thyroid hormone and antibody assays. These examinations were repeated after a mean follow-up of 5.8 years to assess thyroid function, and 64 (82%) of 78 patients and 42 (78%) of 54 controls agreed to participate in the second evaluation.

Results: In the first evaluation, the mean serum thyroid hormone concentrations were lower in the girls taking CBZ [thyroxine (T4), 70.2; SD, 10.9 nM; and free thyroxine (FT4), 11.5; SD, 1.8 pM] or OXC (T4, 74.9; SD, 16.4 nM; and FT4, 11.3; SD, 1.8 pM) than in the control girls (T4, 96.6; SD, 15.1 nM, and FT4, 14.4; SD, 1.5 pM; p < 0.001, all comparisons). However, thyrotropin (TSH) concentrations were normal in the girls taking CBZ or OXC. Sixty-three% of the girls taking CBZ and 67% of the girls taking OXC had serum T4 and/or FT4 levels below the lower limit of the reference range. The VPA-treated girls with epilepsy had normal serum T4 and FT4 concentrations, but slightly increased TSH levels (3.3; SD, 1.5 mU/L; p < 0.01) compared with the control girls (2.5; SD, 1.0 mU/L). Normal serum hormone concentrations were restored in the patients who discontinued the medication.

Conclusions: Both CBZ and OXC reduce serum thyroid hormone concentrations in girls with epilepsy. Conversely, VPA is associated with normal serum thyroid hormone and increased thyrotropin levels. However, our results suggest that the changes in serum thyroid hormone and thyrotropin levels are reversible after withdrawal of the medication.