Neurologic Care of Pregnant Women with Epilepsy


  • Catherine Zahn

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, and the Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, Toronto Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. C. Zahn at The Toronto Hospital-Westem Division, 399 Bathurst St., EC 8-034, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5T2S8.


Summary: Epilepsy is a common neurologic condition in women of reproductive age. Although their risks are greater than those for women in the general population, the majority of women with epilepsy have a good pregnancy outcome. An understanding of the risks and appropriate management of both the pregnancy and epilepsy in these patients is essential for their physicians. Health-care providers should discuss contraception and reproductive issues with all of their female patients with epilepsy as they enter reproductive age. Optimal care requires prepregnancy counseling, including information about contraception, dietary folate supplementation, and the risks related to pregnancy. Although antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) have been implicated as the major cause of teratogenesis in infants born to mothers with epilepsy, uncontrolled epilepsy is also associated with maternal and fetal risk. Therefore, optimal seizure control during pregnancy remains an important goal for women with epilepsy. Women with epilepsy should be counseled about breast-feeding their infants and supported in their decision. The recommendations in this article reflect those of a Practice Parameter developed by the American Academy of Neurology Quality Standards Subcommittee.