Growth and Lipid Metabolism in Girls and Young Women with Epilepsy during Pubertal Maturation


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. K. Mikkonen at Department of Pediatrics, P.O. Box 5000, FIN-90014, University of Oulu, Finland. E-mail:


Summary: Purpose: To assess growth and the serum lipid profile in girls with epilepsy receiving monotherapy at a mean age of 12.6 years and approximately 6 years later.

Methods: A population-based cohort of 77 girls with epilepsy and 49 healthy controls participated in this follow-up study including two cross-sectional evaluations (age range, 8–18.5 years on the first evaluation, and 12.5–25.8 years on the second evaluation). Forty of the patients were initially taking valproate (VPA), 19, carbamazepine (CBZ), and 18, oxcarbazepine (OXC). Growth data were compiled, body mass index (BMI) was calculated, and serum total (TC), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL-C) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C) cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations were analyzed.

Results: Linear growth and final height did not differ between the patients and the controls. At follow-up, the mean BMI of the patients who were off medication (61%) was similar to that of the controls, whereas the patients initially treated with VPA who were still taking any medication had a higher BMI. On the first evaluation, the patients taking VPA had low serum HDL-C, and those taking CBZ or OXC had high serum TC and LDL-C concentrations. At follow-up, serum lipid levels were similar in the patients off medication and the controls.

Conclusions: Neither epilepsy nor antiepileptic therapy affects linear growth or final height, but they may have unfavorable effects on body weight and serum lipid concentrations. Lipid-profile impairment seems to be transient if the medication is discontinued. Overweight is common in patients treated with VPA during puberty if epilepsy and medication continue into adulthood.