Does pregnancy per se make epilepsy worse?

Acta Neurol Scand. 2016 May;133(5):380-3. doi: 10.1111/ane.12479. Epub 2015 Sep 8.


Objective: To determine whether being pregnant in its own right alters epileptic seizure control.

Materials/methods: Study of 148 pregnancies in women who took no antiepileptic drugs before pregnancy and in at least the earlier half of pregnancy, 69 taking none throughout pregnancy.

Results: More women (P < 0.01) had seizures of any type during pregnancy (45.9%) than in the prepregnancy year (34.5%), and also convulsive seizures (30.4% vs 12.3%). After excluding potential confounding factors, viz. late prepregnancy drug withdrawal, treatment resumption in pregnancy possibly preventing seizure recurrence, the figures became seizures of any type 56.6% during and 35.5% before pregnancy and convulsive seizures 39.4% during and 18.2% before pregnancy (both P < 0.01). There was a non-statistically significant greater tendency for seizure control to be lost during pregnancy in genetic generalized than in focal epilepsies (54.2% vs 35.5%).

Conclusions: Irrespective of its effects on antiepileptic drug disposition, being pregnant per se seems to impair epileptic seizure control.

Keywords: antiepileptic drugs; epilepsy; pregnancy; seizure control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Epilepsy / complications
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*


  • Anticonvulsants