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What Precautions should Pregnant Women Who have Epilepsy take?

Epilepsy can be defined as a medical condition that needs special consideration in women who are suffering from Epilepsy. It has been estimated that more than 1 million women suffering from Epilepsy are of childbearing age in India. Certain aspects need to be kept in mind if you are suffering from Epilepsy and are planning to start a family of your own. Please note that majority of the women suffering from Epilepsy deliver normal and healthy babies. The expecting mothers are just to take special precautions.

Precautions for Epilepsy in Pregnancy

Does Epilepsy cause infertility or make it difficult to conceive?

Yes, there is a possibility that your epilepsy treatment may be making it difficult for you to conceive. This is due to certain anti-seizure medication. These medications can also reduce the effectiveness of the hormonal birth control pills. If you plan to become pregnant, it is best that you consult your neurologist and your gynecologist. Both should be aware your health condition and should recommend drugs that can help you in your pregnancy as well as epilepsy treatment.

How does Epilepsy affect pregnancy?

The main aspect associated with Epilepsy is a seizure. The same can cause a number of complications. Some of the complications are:

  • Slow fetal rate – This means that the heart rate of the baby in the womb can be slow
  • Decreased oxygen flow to the fetus – This can be dangerous for the baby in the womb
  • Fetal injury – This can be defined as a premature separation of the placenta from the uterus. Fetal injury could also be due to a fall, trauma or miscarriage due to a seizure
  • Preterm abortion
  • Premature birth

Does Pregnancy affect Epilepsy?

In most of the women the status of epilepsy remains the same, that is, the number of seizures is the same. However, in some cases, a decrease in the number of seizures is seen. Women, you are sleep deprived, are not following the prescribed medication are seen to show an increase in the seizure incidents.

What is the importance of medication in Epilepsy and Pregnancy?

Medication plays a major role in managing epilepsy in women and ensuring that the pregnancy is normal. If not controlled, it can also have a negative effect on the pregnant woman and the baby. Birth defects such as cleft palate, neural tube defects, skeletal abnormalities, and congenital heart and urinary tract defects — are a few potential side effects associated with anti-seizure medications. Hence your doctor needs to change your medication to ensure that your baby is healthy.

It has also been found that if for a long time you have not reported any incident of seizure, it is most likely that during your pregnancy also no seizure activity shall be reported. However, it is important to formulate an SOS plan with your family, office buddies and doctor. Do not self-medicate and discuss with your doctor before discontinuing your medication.

However, it is strongly advised that women suffering from epilepsy continue their medication also during pregnancy. To minimize the risks for you and your baby, your doctor will prescribe the safest medication and dosage that’s effective for your type of seizures and monitor your blood levels throughout your pregnancy.