New research has discovered that with proper medication management, epilepsy seizures do not worsen in pregnancy.
New research has provided insight into the impact pregnancy has on epilepsy. Specifically, a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has found that with effective medication management, seizures associated with epilepsy do not worsen with pregnancy, Neurology Today reports.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by multiple seizures, which are often associated with falling, shaking, and a loss of awareness of one’s surroundings, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention explains. The CDC explains that epilepsy is caused by a variety o different conditions, including but not limited to strokes, tumors, brain infection or injury, genetic disorders, and neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
The research sought to examine the effects of epilepsy during pregnancy. It looked at two groups of women suffering from epilepsy – one group was pregnant during the time of the study, while the other was not. The study, conducted at 20 epilepsy centers in America, considered 351 pregnant women with 109 controls that allowed researchers to compare the frequency of seizures during pregnancy as compared to the peripartum period – the first six weeks post-birth—as well as the postpartum period – 7.5 months post-birth.
“We can say with confidence that the changes in seizure frequency during pregnancy were the same as what was found in the control group,” the study’s lead author, Page B. Pennell, MD, who is also a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, explained of the results. She added the findings confirm, “Pregnancy in and of itself does not make seizures worse.”
However, it’s important for pregnant women with epilepsy to continue taking precautions and ensure they’re carefully monitored by a physician. Neurology Today notes that other research has found 62 percent of pregnant women with epilepsy report experiencing an increase in seizures while expecting.
Mayo Clinic explains that seizures during pregnancy can have a variety of effects, including slowing the fetal heart rate; decreasing oxygen to the unborn baby; fetal injury; preterm labor or premature birth. However, the publication notes that having a healthy pregnancy is completely possible in epileptic women. As always, consult with your healthcare practitioner to learn more.