Pregnancy And Epilepsy: Premature Birth Risk Higher With Seizures

First Posted: Jul 06, 2015 05:54 PM EDT

New findings published in JAMA Neurology reveal that only a small fraction of pregnancies occur in women with epilepsy. However, for that 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent of women that have children, they are more prone to high risk complications that may result in death.

Researchers looked at obstetrical outcomes that included statistics on maternal death, cesarean delivery, preeclampsia, preterm labor, length of stay, and stillbirth in a retrospective study of pregnant women identified through hospitalization records from 2007 to 2011. From the sample, a total of nearly 4.2 million delivery-related discharges were also included, with 14,151 epileptic women from the sample. (Nationwide, this would involve 69,385 women with epilepsy and 20.4 million women without in over 20.5 million total discharges.)

"Specifically, there were 80 deaths per 100,000 women with epilepsy versus six deaths per 100,000 in women without epilepsy," lead researcher Sarah MacDonald, from the department of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said via Health Day.

"Regardless of the specific cause, the point that women recorded as having epilepsy have an increased risk of mortality remains a clinically relevant message suggesting that increased attention should be paid. Future research is needed to determine the specific causes of mortality and how interventions might improve outcomes," the authors concluded.

Statistics provided the Epilepsy Foundation reveal that the average incidence of epilepsy each year in the United States alone is estimated at 150,000 or 48 for every 100,000 people. Different types of epilepsy may result in different symptoms with the need for different treatments and or medications or potential lifestyle changes. But just what might having epilepsy mean if you're pregnant or what risks could occur if you have a seizure during pregnancy or while giving birth?

Seizures during pregnancy can cause fetal heart rate declaration, fetal injury, premature separation of the placenta from the uterus (placental abruption) or miscarriage from a seizure, preterm labor or premature birth, as previously mentioned. However, for the majority of women dealing with epilepsy during pregnancy, their seizure risk will remain the same.

If you or someone you love is dealing with this health issue, talk to your doctor about how to properly plan for a baby.

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