Higher Pregnancy/Childbirth Risks for Women With Epilepsy

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Higher Pregnancy/Childbirth Risks
Higher Pregnancy/Childbirth Risks

(HealthDay News) — Pregnant women with epilepsy appear to have a heightened risk of adverse outcomes, including a higher mortality risk, according to research published online July 6 in JAMA Neurology.

"Specifically, there were 80 deaths per 100,000 women with epilepsy vs. six deaths per 100,000 in women without epilepsy," lead researcher Sarah MacDonald, ScM, from the department of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, told HealthDay. The researchers also found that the risk of delivery complications was higher among women with epilepsy. "We also found that women with epilepsy were at increased risk for cesarean delivery, prolonged hospital stay, preeclampsia, preterm labor, and stillbirth," she said.

MacDonald and colleagues used U.S. medical records from delivery hospitalizations to look at birth outcomes, including maternal death, cesarean delivery, length of hospital stay, preeclampsia, preterm labor, and stillbirth among pregnant women from 2007–2011. The study included nearly 4.2 million deliveries, of which 14,151 were among women with epilepsy. In the United States, between 0.3 and 0.5% of all pregnancies occur in women with epilepsy. Women with epilepsy were more likely to suffer from other medical problems, such as depression, diabetes, kidney disease, mental disorders, and alcohol and drug abuse. However, whether these conditions played a part in increasing the risk of death during childbirth isn't known.

More research is needed to understand why women with epilepsy have an increased risk and to determine what can be done to reduce these adverse outcomes, MacDonald said. "In the meantime, it may be necessary to consider pregnancies in women with epilepsy as high risk and follow them up accordingly throughout pregnancy," she said.

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