Background: Among women with epilepsy, studies regarding changes in seizure frequency during pregnancy have been limited by the lack of an appropriate nonpregnant comparator group to provide data on the natural course of seizure frequency in both groups.
Methods: In this prospective, observational, multicenter cohort study, we compared the frequency of seizures during pregnancy through the peripartum period (the first 6 weeks after birth) (epoch 1) with the frequency during the postpartum period (the following 7.5 months after pregnancy) (epoch 2). Nonpregnant women with epilepsy were enrolled as controls and had similar follow-up during an 18-month period. The primary outcome was the percentage of women who had a higher frequency of seizures that impaired awareness during epoch 1 than during epoch 2. We also compared changes in the doses of antiepileptic drugs that were administered in the two groups during the first 9 months of epoch 1.
Results: We enrolled 351 pregnant women and 109 controls with epilepsy. Among the 299 pregnant women and 93 controls who had a history of seizures that impaired awareness and who had available data for the two epochs, seizure frequency was higher during epoch 1 than during epoch 2 in 70 pregnant women (23%) and in 23 controls (25%) (odds ratio, 0.93; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.54 to 1.60). During pregnancy, the dose of an antiepileptic drug was changed at least once in 74% of pregnant women and in 31% of controls (odds ratio, 6.36; 95% CI, 3.82 to 10.59).
Conclusions: Among women with epilepsy, the percentage who had a higher incidence of seizures during pregnancy than during the postpartum period was similar to that in women who were not pregnant during the corresponding epochs. Changes in doses of antiepileptic drugs occurred more frequently in pregnant women than in nonpregnant women during similar time periods. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health; MONEAD ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01730170.).
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