10. Fetal and Maternal Risks with Seizures

  1. Cynthia L. Harden MD Professor of Neurology2,
  2. Sanjeev V. Thomas MD, DM Professor of Neurology3 and
  3. Torbjörn Tomson MD, PhD Professor of Neurology and Epileptology4
  1. Vilho K. Hiilesmaa and
  2. Kari A. Teramo

Published Online: 24 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118531037.ch10

Epilepsy in Women

Epilepsy in Women

How to Cite

Hiilesmaa, V. K. and Teramo, K. A. (2013) Fetal and Maternal Risks with Seizures, in Epilepsy in Women (eds C. L. Harden, S. V. Thomas and T. Tomson), John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118531037.ch10

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Chief, Division of Epilepsy and Electroencephalography, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, Cushing Neuroscience Institutes, Brain and Spine Specialists, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Great Neck, New York, USA

  2. 3

    Department of Neurology, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, Kerala State, India

  3. 4

    Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Author Information

  1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 24 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 11 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470672679

Online ISBN: 9781118531037



  • fetal monitoring;
  • fetal hypoxia;
  • epilepsy;
  • pregnancy;
  • seizure


A tonic–clonic seizure during pregnancy causes significant redistribution of maternal blood circulation, provokes uterine contractions, and develops transient maternal lactic acidosis that is transferred to her fetus through the placenta. Despite these extensive and significant alterations in pathophysiology, no association has yet been verified in the modern literature between seizures and pregnancy complications such as spontaneous abortions, fetal malformations, growth retardation, stillbirths, preterm delivery, or placental abruption. Thus, a healthy fetus seems to tolerate maternal seizures reasonably well. However, none of the currently available studies have sufficient power to reliably exclude harmful effects of seizures on the pregnant woman or on her fetus. It is therefore prudent to strive to reduce the risk of seizures to a minimum during pregnancy.