Epilepsy not a barrier to pregnancy

Women with epilepsy are just as likely to be able to get pregnant as women without the condition, a new study has found.

Previous research has suggested that women with epilepsy may have higher rates of infertility, so US researchers decided to look into this further.

Around 37,000 Irish people have epilepsy, which is characterised by recurring, unprovoked seizures. These are caused by excess electrical activity in the brain.

As part of this latest study, the researchers looked at women with and without epilepsy who were aged between 18 and 41, and who were hoping to become pregnant. The women were not using any type of contraception and were monitored between 2010 and 2015.

Altogether, 89 women with epilepsy and 109 controls were compared.

The study found that those with epilepsy were just as likely to get pregnant as those without the condition. The proportion of controls who became pregnant was just over 67%, while the proportion of those with epilepsy who became pregnant was 70%.

The average time it took to become pregnant was also fairly similar - six months in those with epilepsy and nine months in those without the condition. However, when the researchers took age, body mass index and race into account, there was no difference between the women in terms of time it took to get pregnant.

Meanwhile, the study also found a similar proportion of pregnancies resulted in a live birth irrespective of whether a woman had epilepsy or not, and miscarriage rates were also similar.

"We hope our findings reassure women with epilepsy and clinicians who are counselling these women on family planning," the researchers said.

Details of these findings were presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver.


[Posted: Mon 18/04/2016]

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