Womens Health

Pregnant Epileptics: Seizures or Meds More Dangerous for Baby?

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Epilepsy is the most common form of seizure disorders women have. About a million American women with seizure disorders are at risk for pregnancy, and many get pregnant each year.

Hippocrates himself called seizures 'The Scared Disease" in reference to the biblical driving forth demons by Jesus in Mark, and is the source of the now widely quoted and translated Latin phrase: "Nomen mihi Legio est, quia multi sumus," when he was asked what the name of these demon purging seizures were or "my name is Legion."

Understanding that the seizures are a discharge of aberrant electrical brain activity, we no longer believe in any cleansing powers, and take a dim view of seizures and use medication to control them.

Oddly, in pregnancy, there may be more risk to the developing fetus from medications than seizures, as few seizures last long enough to deprive the fetus of oxygen, and few are forceful enough to dislodge a healthy placental attachment. So the struggle has been what medicines to keep patients on if they are actually planning a pregnancy and taking medicines for seizure control.

As with our other advice, consultation is important. There are registries that can be checked for specific information on particular drugs and often there are alternatives. If there are not alternative medicines in your case, there are ways to follow your baby's development so that we can see the general health of the pregnancy.