Epilepsy In Pregnancy: Risks And Precautions

There is a risk of having epilepsy and being pregnant. Therefore, it is extremely important for women with this disease to learn about ways to reduce the risk of associated problems.
Epilepsy in pregnancy: risks and precautions

Believe it or not, many women have to deal with epilepsy and pregnancy at the same time. In fact, this situation happens in 3 out of 1000 cases. It is not the most common situation. However, as you can see, it is more common than you might think. What are the risks of epilepsy in pregnancy?

Fortunately, pregnancy does not really increase the risk of seizures. Also, most children born to mothers with this condition end up being completely healthy. In fact, up to 96% of women who have this problem can have a normal birth without any complications.

Epilepsy in pregnancy

Epilepsy is a neurological disease in which the affected person suffers massive synchronous discharges in the neurons. In other words, there is electrical activity of nerve cells in large areas of the brain at the same time.

This may or may not lead to seizures. We need to make it clear that there is a difference between seizures and seizures. Contrary to popular belief, they do not always go hand in hand. Whatever the case, electric shocks always create a symptom that, in many cases, is a slight localized movement.

During pregnancy, there are changes in the female body due to the action of hormones, especially progesterone. In general, there are changes in the genital, reproductive, cardiac and soft tissues. We could say that, in one way or another, almost all cells are affected.

That being said, there are no data to indicate whether seizures tend to increase or decrease in frequency during pregnancy. Scientific studies conclude that the fetus does not really influence the mother’s seizures.

In fact, research shows that one of the most important causes of problems during pregnancy is the lack of adequate sleep. This creates some connection between epilepsy and pregnancy. In general, seizures occur more often if the woman does not sleep well in the last trimester of pregnancy. However, no one knows for sure if this occurs due to lack of rest and stress or due to hormonal changes.

However, there are problems with the drugs used to treat epilepsy. In order for a person to keep epilepsy under control, they must take medication. However, doing this during pregnancy is not the healthiest idea, because pregnancy itself changes the total volume of blood in circulation, as well as its distribution in body tissues.

Pregnant looking at an ultrasound

Epilepsy in pregnancy: administration of antiepileptic drugs

One of the main side effects of anticonvulsant drugs is birth defects. This is a dilemma when it comes to caring for and monitoring an epileptic woman’s pregnancy.

The researchers compared the incidence of birth defects among children born to epileptic mothers with the incidence of problems in children born to healthy women. They discovered notable differences. Congenital defects occur in the general population every 100 births. However, in people taking antiepileptic drugs, the risk of developing birth defects is three times higher.

The likelihood of a complicated birth increases when the mother takes more prescription drugs. This is a common situation among epileptic patients who do not respond well to regular treatments. As a result, the doctor begins to combine different doses to reduce seizures.

Moreover, research has shown that the fetus is more likely to have birth defects if the woman is taking medications such as valproate and carbamazepine. In this case, the most affected area of ​​the fetus is the central nervous system.

What doctors suggest is to reduce the dose of antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy. If the woman has not had seizures for more than 9 months, she can take very small amounts of a single drug.

In any case, it is necessary for a healthcare professional or specialist to approve this change in treatment. Neither the patient nor her relatives can make this decision. Otherwise, this can cause serious problems for both mother and fetus.

Is there a risk of seizures during pregnancy?

Although statistics do not clearly show an increase or decrease in seizures during pregnancy, the truth is that they occur quite often. If the patient tends to have frequent seizures, it is likely that they will continue during pregnancy.

Convulsions present risks for both mother and fetus. One of the biggest problems is hypoxia (lack of oxygenation of the tissues while the event occurs). If enough oxygen does not reach the placenta, the functioning and development of the baby’s organs can be compromised.

Trauma can also appear as a complication of seizures. Of course, this can be very problematic in a pregnant woman. By losing consciousness during the seizure episode, the patient may fall and be injured in sensitive areas, such as the skull and abdomen.

The mortality rate in epileptic pregnant women is higher than in other pregnant women. Many of these deaths, about 1 in 1,000 pregnancies, are sudden sudden death in epilepsy (SUDEP).

SUDEP refers to unexplained death in people with epilepsy. There is no drowning or trauma. No one knows the origin of this syndrome. But we know that there are risk factors on which it can act to reduce the possibility of its occurrence.

Basically, women with epilepsy should never sleep alone or face down. Their families or friends should also be aware of the first aid measures that can be provided in such cases.

Woman experiencing epilepsy in pregnancy

As you can see, epilepsy and pregnancy are a complicated combination. Things can go well in the end. However, the attending physician should monitor the case closely. In addition, the woman should take all precautions to reduce the associated risks.

In addition, the woman can continue to take medication only if the doctor says so. Your doctor may adjust the amounts of medication. No pregnant woman should decide on her own to discontinue or change medication doses.

The birth must be scheduled in advance, in specialized places, with a medical team with experience in the field. Cesarean section surgery is recommended, and the decision should be made following a sincere dialogue between the obstetrician and the expectant mother. The better the communication between them, the healthier and easier the task will be.

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