Epilepsy and pregnancy

12:0AM, Jul 14th 2010

How will epilepsy affect your baby during pregnancy?

How will epilepsy affect your baby during pregnancy?

Epilepsy affects 1 in every 200 people. Sufferers experience recurring fits, which may be quite infrequent. Five percent of all children will suffer one or more fits before the age of twelve. However, a single epileptic fit doesn't mean that someone has epilepsy.

I'm epileptic and I want to conceive. Do I stop taking my medication?
You need to let your specialist know if you're planning to try for a baby. Your doctor will have to weigh up how safe your medication is against keeping you free of fits during your pregnancy. The risks of anticonvulsant drugs are small. Some slightly increase the chance of spina bifida developing in your baby, but this can be prevented by taking folic acid for three months before you fall pregnant and throughout the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Your doctor should always prescribe the highest dose, which is 5mg once a day.

If your doctor says, you may need to increase your dosage of anticonvulsant drugs because the amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy, which can dilute the drug levels in your bloodstream. Regular blood tests during pregnancy will check on this.

Will my epilepsy get worse while I'm pregnant?
It's very difficult to say. Roughly 50 percent of women with epilepsy notice no change during pregnancy. Of the rest, some experience a few more seizures, some fewer.

Will my epilepsy affect my pregnancy?
It shouldn't have a dramatic affect if it's being managed by your specialist. There is a slightly increased risk of bleeding in pregnancy, but this rarely threatens the pregnancy itself.

Will my or my partner's epilepsy affect our baby's development?
There is an increased risk of malformations, especially to the skull, mouth or heart. Most of these can be detected by ultrasound scanning at around 18 to 20 weeks. But nine out of ten babies born to epileptic mums and/or dads are completely free of malformations.

Will our baby inherit epilepsy?
If either parent is epileptic then the chances of your baby being affected by epilepsy at some stage in their life are about 10 percent.

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