Myths & Facts - Epilepsy And Pregnancy

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy, also known as seizure disorder, is defined as a neurological disorder that involves frequent seizures.

Transmission of information from one nerve cell to another occurs by an electrochemical process. Unusual patterns in the electrical activity may cause seizures. A seizure disorder comprises of any condition in which there are repeated episodes of seizures of any type.

What are the myths?

Myth: It’s hard to get pregnant if one have epilepsy.

Fact: Unless you have a prior history of infertility, or a different medical condition that can affect fertility, you have the same likelihood of conceiving as women who don’t have epilepsy.

Myth: Patient can’t take epilepsy medication during pregnancy.

Fact: It is usually recommend continuing epilepsy medications throughout pregnancy. However, it depends a lot on the the type of medication. The doctor will adjust the dosage or switch to a new medicine, but the patient probably won’t need to stop medication altogether.

Myth: Epileptic mother will have epileptic baby.

Fact: Epilepsy sometimes runs in families, but most children don’t inherit epilepsy from their parents.

Myth: Getting pregnant is unsafe if you have history of epilepsy as it causes more seizures.

Fact: There are risks, but these can usually be managed and controlled. The majority of expecting mother have the same seizure frequency during pregnancy. In fact, some women may experience fewer seizures.

Myth: Miscarriage is likely for epileptic mother.

Fact: Falling on your stomach during a seizure could injure the baby. However, most of the women who have seizures while pregnant still give birth to healthy babies.

Management of epilepsy during pregnancy

Pregnant women with epilepsy require very close monitoring of the disease. More frequent prenatal visits are often recommended. Most expecting mother is treated with anticonvulsant medications. Monitoring of these medications is highly crucial for the continued control of seizures and reduction of side effects. Using as few medications as possible and at the lowest dose are required to control seizures is the main goal of the treatment.

Women with epilepsy can usually labour and deliver as other normal women. Because stress may increase the risk of seizures, a calm environment and epidural anaesthesia are often suggested. Women with epilepsy can increase their chances for a healthy pregnancy by getting early prenatal care and working with their health care providers to manage their disease. Always consult your doctor for more information regarding treatment for epilepsy and pregnancy is highly recommended.

Dr. Manish Gupta
Associate Director
Department of Neurology
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