The literature suggests that cesarean delivery or birth is carried out more often in pregnant women with epilepsy (WWE) than in pregnant women in the general population. Data were utilized from the Australian Pregnancy Register (APR) for Women on Antiepileptic Medication to investigate this issue in Australia. Over almost two decades, the mean CS rate in 1900 APR women was 39.2%, but was only 29.9% in women in the general population (relative risk (R.R.) = 1.31, 95% confidence interval (C.I.) 1.24, 1.39). Rates for forceps and suction-assisted delivery were similar in the two datasets. The 9.3% excess CS rate was almost entirely accounted for by operations carried out prior to the onset of labor. The rates for CS during labor were very similar. Only 11.0% of the WWE knew the indication for their prelabor CS, whereas 69.8% knew why theirs had been carried out during labor (odds ratio (O.R.) = 0.054; 99% C.I. 0.032, 0.089). Slightly older mothers and increased proportions of primipara probably made small contributions to the increased prelabor CS rate in the Australian WWE, but most of the excess could not be accounted for in the Register data. Australian obstetricians may have tended to regard prelabor CS as a preferable course of action in managing delivery in WWE, even in the absence of other indications.
Keywords: Antiepileptic drugs; Cesarean section; Epilepsy; Forceps delivery; Labor; Primipara; Suction delivery.
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