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Seizures and premature deliveries

The risk of a premature delivery is increased among women who have seizures while pregnant as compared with the general population.

Seizures and premature deliveries

The risk of a premature delivery is increased among women who have seizures while pregnant as compared with the general population.

Less than one percent of women have seizure disorders, also known as epilepsy. Most of these women have a higher rate of complications such as stillbirths and birth defects, and some antiepileptic medications have been linked to such complications.

Researchers analysed 1,016 women with epilepsy who delivered single babies and a group of 8,128 women without epilepsy in Taiwan. They were assessed whether seizures, or simply having epilepsy, were risk factors for low-birth weight infants, premature delivery, and babies being small for their gestational age. A total of 503 women with epilepsy had seizures while pregnant.

It was found that among women with epilepsy who did not have seizures during pregnancy, only premature birth was significantly more likely as compared with women without epilepsy. Similar patterns of risks remained, even when women with epilepsy who received antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy. Compared with controls, all three measures (low-birth weight infants, preterm delivery and infants small for gestational age) were significantly higher among those with seizures.

Overall rates of low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams) were 6% in the non-epilepsy group, 8% among women with epilepsy who did not have seizures during pregnancy, and 9% among those who had seizures. Corresponding rates of premature birth (before 37 weeks) were 7%, 9% and 11%, and rates of small for gestational age (birth weight in the lowest 10 percent of the population) were 17%, 18%, and 22%.

The researchers suggested that obstetricians and neurologists should start working together before conception and throughout the pregnancy to closely monitor seizures and contributing factors (e.g., sleep deprivation and medication compliance).
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