A recent study published in the journal JAMA Neurology has shown that pregnant women with epilepsy are more exposed to experience complications and even death when they give birth. This is very unfortunate especially when in the case of women who suffer from epilepsy only 0.3-0.5 percent of them are able to have children.
The research team led by Sarah MacDonald from Harvard University analyzed data from 4.2 million deliveries among which 14,151 of the women who gave birth had epilepsy. The records of the hospitalized women were from 2007 to2011.The scientists investigated the obstetrical outcomes which contained statistics on cesarean delivery, length of stay, preeclampsia, stillbirth and maternal death.
The findings of the study indicate that in the case of pregnant women with epilepsy there were 80 deaths for 100.000 women, whereas in women who did not suffer from epilepsy the rate was of six deaths per 100.000 women.
According to MacDonald pregnant women with epilepsy were more likely to experience cesarean delivery, preeclampsia, stillbirth, prolonged hospital stay and preterm labor. But the study presents some limitations. The data used did not contain the ultimate cases when women with epilepsy died while giving birth. Also even though the risk of death is increased in comparison with women who do not have epilepsy the death of the mother during delivery still occurs seldom even in the case of pregnant women with epilepsy.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation statistics in the US the average incidence of epilepsy is approximately 150.000 every year, meaning 48 cases per 100,000 people. There are different types of epilepsy and as a consequence the symptoms are also different. Thus the medications, treatments and lifestyle changes must vary accordingly.
The author’s conclusion was the following:
“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.”
A recent study conducted in the UK was also cited. According to it before stating that all pregnant women with epilepsy are at risk researchers should firstly understand the mechanisms which lie behind this increased risk so they can start devising interventions and reduce them.
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