Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Are there risks to
me if I become pregnant?
Women with epilepsy who become pregnant have a
higher risk for complications than women who don't have epilepsy. These
complications include the possibility that your seizures will occur more often.
The seizures can cause you to fall and have a serious injury. When you are
pregnant, your body processes your anti-seizure medicines differently. This can
lead to medicine levels that are too high (which can cause side effects) or too
low (which can mean more seizures). Every woman who has epilepsy and becomes
pregnant will react differently, so your doctor will talk to you about the risks
and monitor you and your baby closely.
Are there risks to
More than 90% of women with epilepsy have
normal, healthy babies. But there are some risks. Babies of mothers with
epilepsy have a higher risk of being stillborn. They might also have a slightly
greater risk of developing seizures as they get older. There is also more risk
for problems such as bleeding, early birth and delays in development and growth,
as well as the possibility of birth defects due to the medicine you take.
However, the risks if you don't take your medicine are much higher for your
baby, and include physical injury, developmental delay and even death from your
What can I do to
help protect myself and my baby?
It's very important that you take your seizure
medicine just as your doctor tells you. If you haven't had any seizures for two
years or more, your doctor may wish to try and slowly stop your seizure
It's also very important for you to take vitamin
supplements and folic acid (a B vitamin), which can help prevent certain kinds
of birth defects. Taking these vitamins before you get pregnant will give you
the most benefit. Tell your doctor about any history in your family (or in the
family of the baby's father) of brain or spinal defects. Eating a healthy diet,
getting enough sleep and exercising regularly are other things you can do to
have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
What can I expect
when I'm pregnant?
During your pregnancy, you will see your doctor
often. Your doctor will do blood tests to be sure that you're getting enough
seizure medicine. It's very common for changes to be made in the dose of your
medicine during your pregnancy. Your doctor may also want you to have several
ultrasound exams (called sonograms) during your pregnancy. You may even have an
amniocentesis. In this procedure, a small amount of fluid is removed from your
uterus. This fluid gives your doctor some information about the health of your
unborn baby. Your doctor will explain this test to you if you need to have one.