Pregnancy and Epilepsy

When you’re pregnant, there are plenty of things that you have to worry about. When you’re pregnant and you have epilepsy, you have even more to consider. So, what do you really need to know? Read on to find out more. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here

Does epilepsy affect pregnancy?

Women with epilepsy were discouraged from getting pregnant in the past. Luckily, our medical technology has advanced to the point where women with epilepsy are no longer told not to procreate. Now, more than 90 percent of pregnant women who have the condition go on to deliver healthy babies.

Although some women who have epilepsy have other underlying female problems that keep them from getting pregnant, like PCOS. Sometimes, women who are on anti seizure medication related to their epilepsy can have problems getting pregnant as well, due to medication related side effects. Every epilepsy medication is different, so make sure to speak to your doctor about the side effects.

What can epilepsy do during pregnancy?

Some women with epilepsy will be at higher risk for pregnancy complications including failure to progress during labor, babies with low birth weights, preeclampsia, placental abruption, anemia, severe morning sickness, or babies with congenital abnormalities.

However, just because a woman has epilepsy, doesn’t mean that she will have any pregnancy complications, or that her baby will be born with any problems as well. For some women who have uncontrolled or poorly controlled epilepsy, pregnancy can actually lead to an increase in the number of seizures.

However, for most pregnant women, seizures are not affected by pregnancy at all. Your doctor will be able to tell you more about this if you are interested.

Epilepsy medications and pregnancy

The most important thing to remember about epilepsy and pregnancy is to talk with your doctor about the medications that you are taking, since these can be the cause of birth defects. Things like congenital heart defects, cleft lip and palate, neural tube defects and skeletal abnormalities are the main concern with seizure medications.

Taking seizure medications that contain valproate increase the risk that your baby will have impaired congnitive development. The risk of birth defects in “regular” babies is anywhere between 2 and 3 percent, however the risk for babies who are exposed to seizure medication in the womb is between 4 and 8 percent.

The risk is greater for women who take high doses of medication or women that take more than one medication. Make sure to talk with your doctor if you are planning to get pregnant or are already pregnant with epilepsy.

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Dr. Christine Lee, MD
Dr. Christine Lee, MD | ConceiveEasy
Dr. Christine Lee earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Biology and Master of Science in Biomolecular Organization. Dr. Lee is Lab Director for ConceiveEasy and is board certified as a High Complexity Laboratory Director (HCLD).