A commonly prescribed anti-epilepsy drug has been discovered to have an impact on the cognitive function of unborn children.
This is the finding of a study by scientists at the University of Liverpool as part of a collaboration with Emory University in the US and the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The study reveals that youngsters under the age of three whose mothers took the drug sodium valproate during pregnancy have an IQ that is up to nine points lower than average.
Professor Baker added: "The answer is not as simple as to take women off anti-epileptic drugs altogether as the effects of suffering a seizure can also pose a risk for both mother and unborn child.
"It is vital that the research is now used to educate women with epilepsy before they start to plan for a family."
He added that women should educate themselves about the risks involved and are also urged to consult their doctor and continue taking their epilepsy medication before seeking medical advice.
Of the 50 million people in the world who have epilepsy, 90 per cent reside in the developing world.