Effects of Seizures and Their Treatment on Fetal Brain


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. S. L. Moshé at Department of Neurology, K316, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1410 Pelham Parkway South, Bronx, NY 10461, U.S.A. E-mail: moshe@aecom.yu.edu


Summary: Purpose: To describe the effects of pregnancy on seizures, the effects of seizures during pregnancy on the fetus, and the effects of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) on fetal brain and development.

Methods: The available literature was reviewed and summarized.

Results: There is a paucity of prospective studies. Retrospective studies indicate that, during pregnancy, alterations in seizure frequency can occur in an unpredictable fashion. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures may have adverse effects on the fetus. It is unclear whether complex partial seizures or absence seizures have negative consequences. AEDs may have potentially detrimental effects on the fetus and its subsequent development, but the full spectrum and clinical significance are under investigation. Monotherapy is strongly encouraged.

Conclusions: Dealing with the pregnant epileptic patient is a difficult and challenging task. Although there are several risks for the mother and the fetus, most epileptic women bear normal, healthy children.