Prevalence of self-reported emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and association with fear of childbirth in pregnant women with epilepsy: The Norwegian Mother, Father, and Child Cohort Study

Epilepsia. 2022 Jul;63(7):1822-1834. doi: 10.1111/epi.17242. Epub 2022 Apr 11.


Objective: This study was undertaken to examine the prevalence of self-reported experiences with abuse in pregnant women with epilepsy and the association between having experienced abuse and childbirth expectations, particularly the fear of childbirth.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of women with and without epilepsy enrolled in the Norwegian Mother, Father, and Child Cohort Study 1999-2008. Data on epilepsy diagnosis; antiseizure medication (ASM) use; emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; and childbirth expectations were collected from questionnaires completed during gestational Weeks 17-19 and 30.

Results: Our study population included 295 women with ASM-treated epilepsy, 318 women with ASM-untreated epilepsy, and 93 949 women without epilepsy. A total of 115 women (47%) with ASM-treated and 132 women (57%) with ASM-untreated epilepsy reported any emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, compared to 25 100 women (32%) without epilepsy. The adjusted odds ratios (aORs) for having experienced any abuse were 1.8 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.4-2.3) and 1.8 (95% CI = 1.4-2.2) for ASM-treated and ASM-untreated epilepsy, respectively. A total of 29 women (11%) with ASM-treated and 34 women (11%) with ASM-untreated epilepsy reported having been raped, compared to 3088 women (4%) without epilepsy (aORs = 2.8 [95% CI = 1.8-4.1] and 2.9 [95% CI = 2.0-4.2], respectively). In nulliparous women with ASM-untreated epilepsy, having experienced abuse was associated with fear of childbirth; 22 women (31%) with abuse experiences reported fear of childbirth compared to five women (7%) with no experience of abuse (aOR = 5.4 [95% CI = 1.7-17.2]). This association was not seen in multiparous women or in women with ASM-treated epilepsy.

Significance: More women with epilepsy reported emotional, physical, and sexual abuse than women without epilepsy. Such experiences may be associated with childbirth expectations.

Keywords: MBRN; MoBa; anticonvulsants; antiseizure medication; violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Epilepsy* / epidemiology
  • Fathers
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Parturition / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Sex Offenses* / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires