In the past, women with epilepsy were often cautioned against pregnancy, but this is not the case anymore. Nowadays, they experience a healthy pregnancy and baby. Roughly, women with epilepsy give birth to around 24,000 babies each year, and the vast majority of these babies are born healthy.
Nevertheless, epilepsy does pose some health risks during pregnancy, and it’s important to be aware of them. Below, a renowned high-risk pregnancy doctor in Dumdum has discussed how this disease can affect mothers-to-be and shared tips on overcoming the risks.
How does epilepsy affect pregnancy?
Seizures pose the following health risks to pregnant women:
- Reduced oxygen supply to the baby
- Slower fetal heart rate
- Preterm labour
- Reduced birth weight
The chances of these complications arising depend on the type of seizure. It’s important to discuss with a gynaecologist to determine how high your risks are.
How do medications for epilepsy affect pregnancy?
Taking antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) during pregnancy increases the possibility of the baby having physical problems or birth defects like a cleft lip and palate, which can often be fixed with surgery. There can also be issues with the baby’s heart and urogenital system. In normal cases, the chances of delivering babies with congenital malformations remain at two to three per cent. However, in women with epilepsy, this risk increases from four to six per cent.
Taking anti-seizure medications can raise the risk of other birth defects, like problems with neural tube skeletal abnormalities. The risk tends to increase if higher or multiple doses of anti-seizure medications are taken.
If you did not have a seizure for the past nine months before conceiving, the chances of having one during pregnancy are lower.
Tips to lower risks during pregnancy
- Before planning a pregnancy, it’s advisable to consult a doctor if you’re taking multiple medications or using high dosages. The best high-risk pregnancy specialist recommends women to take the smallest effective dose of seizure medication to manage seizures, as stopping the medication altogether may trigger uncontrolled seizures, which will pose a greater risk to the baby and the mother.
- Pregnant women with epilepsy must get a high-resolution ultrasound done to monitor the health of the baby.
- Doctors advise women with epilepsy to take folic acid supplements before becoming pregnant to lower the chances of neural tube defects, which affect the brain, spine, and spinal cord.
Though epilepsy presents challenges during pregnancy, it’s possible to manage one’s health with proper care and medical guidance. The best high-risk pregnancy doctor advises women to take precautionary measures like making lifestyle changes and taking medicines to increase their chances of a positive pregnancy outcome.