Women suffering from epilepsy used to be discouraged from conceiving because of their condition and meditations they were taking. Today a situation is a bit different. Namely, a woman is possible to give birth to a full-term baby even though she is suffering from this brain disorder.
Pregnancy in Women Suffering from Epilepsy
It may be sometimes difficult for such woman to conceive because drugs she is taking may cause menstrual irregularities. Also, these women should consult their doctor when they decide to get pregnant because he/she may adjust treatment and even discontinue some drugs that can be detrimental for early development of the baby.
It is proven that women suffering from epilepsy are at higher risk of developing many pregnancy-related complications such as severe morning sickness, anemia, preeclampsia and eclampsia, placental abruption and vaginal bleeding. Furthermore, the baby may be born with low birth weight.
As for the disease itself, while being pregnant some women may experience the same frequency of the attacks. However, it is also possible for these to become less or sometimes more frequent. This is an individual characteristic.
Epilepsy Medications and Pregnancy
It is a well known fact that any drug taken during pregnancy may have detrimental effects on the baby, its growth and development. This particularly refers to some antiepileptic drugs. Some of these are blamed for the occurrence of cleft palate, neural tube defects, skeletal abnormalities, congenital heart defects and congenital urinary tract defects.
Still, it is estimated that the risk for birth defect in women taken antiepileptic drugs while being pregnant is 4-8% while the same problems may affect 2-3% of women who are disease-free. The more antiepileptic drugs the mother is taking, the higher the chances for the baby to suffer from some birth defects are.
It is also not good if treatment is completely discontinued especially if the mother has frequent attacks. In such case during the attacks the baby may be deprived of oxygen which can have detrimental effects.
Doctors can successfully taper antiepileptic medications right before and during pregnancy. A woman may need to continue taking the same dose of the already prescribed drugs because her epilepsy simply cannot be controlled with lower doses of the drugs. The best thing is to prescribe the lowest dose possible.
So in order to prevent any complications to the mother an the baby treatment must be well adapted. The doctor must take care of the disease itself and prevent its attacks and also try to save the baby from side effect of taken drugs.