Epilepsy does not affect fertility in women, or pregnancy outcomes

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Woman brain epilepsy | Photo: www.amenclinics.com
Woman brain epilepsy Photo: www.amenclinics.com

New study finds women with epilepsy just as likely to get pregnant as disease-free individuals

Debunking yet another epilepsy myth, new research has shown that women with epilepsy are just as likely to get pregnant as those that are not suffering from it.

This, provided there was no history of infertility or any other related disorders. In an observational study of 89 women with epilepsy and 108 without, 60.7 percent of the women with epilepsy achieved pregnancy. For the group without epilepsy, the corresponding figure was 60.2 percent. The women also had similar pregnancy outcomes in terms of live births and low rates of miscarriages.

The study has been published in JAMA Neurology.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects 0.6-1.5% of the global population. Approximately 12.5 million women of childbearing age worldwide have epilepsy.

Most earlier studies suggest birth rates in women with epilepsy (WWE) to be 37% to 88% of other groups

According to a 2014 article in the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, “It is estimated that there are more than 10 million persons with epilepsy (PWE) in India. Its prevalence is about 1% in our population. The prevalence is higher in the rural (1.9%) compared to urban population (0.6%). In the Bangalore Urban Rural Neuro-epidemiological Survey (BURNS), a prevalence rate of 8.8/1000 population was observed, with the rate in rural communities (11.9) being twice that of urban areas (5.7). The estimated burden of epilepsy using the DALYs (disability adjusted life years) accounts for 1% of the total burden of disease in the world, excluding that due to social stigma and isolation, which further add to the disease burden.”

Most earlier studies suggest birth rates in women with epilepsy (WWE) to be 37% to 88% of other groups. However there are also studies that show that there is actually no difference in fertility on account of epilepsy.

The study concluded: “In this prospective cohort study of women without a prior diagnosis of infertility or related disorder, WWE seeking pregnancy experienced similar pregnancy rates compared with their peers without epilepsy. Secondary analyses also showed similar times to achieve pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes. Although this study design cannot exclude an increased risk for impaired fertility across all WWE, our results should reassure WWE without a prior diagnosis of infertility or related disorders and the clinicians who care for them when planning pregnancy.”

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