Women with epilepsy face a higher risk of death and a host of complications during their pregnancies than other women, according to a new study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology.
The researchers found women with epilepsy had a risk of 80 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies, more than 10 times higher than the risk of 6 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies faced by other women.
"The study should sound a major alarm among physicians and researchers," French and Meador write. But, it fails to answer an integral question, they say: Who exactly is at risk and why did the women die?
The study also fails to distinguish between women with well-controlled epilepsy and those continuing to suffer seizures. "These are critical questions, and, without the answers, we are left in the unsatisfying position of having to advise all women with epilepsy that they may be at higher risk," French and Meador write. The study "raises far more questions than it answers. Most women with epilepsy have uncomplicated pregnancies."
The authors conclude: "Future studies need to confirm and build on the present findings to improve the care of women with epilepsy during pregnancy."
Previously: Treating intractible epilepsy, Ask Stanford Med: Neurologist taking questions on drug-resistant epilepsy and How epilepsy patients are teaching Stanford scientists more about the brain
Photo by José Manuel Ríos Valiente