Background: Studies suggest that weight gain is a prominent risk factor for recurrence of papilledema in idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). Given this information, the significant weight gain that occurs during pregnancy, and the fact that pharmacologic therapy is many times discontinued, raises concerns for worsening edema and vision loss. To examine the impact of pregnancy weight gain on IIH, a retrospective chart review of patients with IIH and pregnancy was performed. Compared with previous studies, we 1) quantified findings with optical coherence tomography (OCT) and Humphrey visual field (HVF) data, 2) Included baseline data before pregnancy, 3) determined excess pregnancy weight gain using body mass index-adjusted weight gain goals, and 4) correlated worsening in IIH symptoms with changes in papilledema.
Methods: Charts were reviewed for patients with diagnoses of IIH who had at least 2 visits with neuro-ophthalmology during pregnancy. Thirteen patients met inclusion criteria. Data were compared from baseline visits before pregnancy, pregnancy visits, and postpregnancy visits.
Results: Comparisons of HVF mean deviation (MD), OCT retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL), and Max OCT RNFL during pregnancy were not significant compared with baseline ( P = 0.51, 0.41, and 0.25). Three patients were found to have increased papilledema during pregnancy (Max Avg OCT RNFL of 152.5, 129, and 123.5 μm) of which 2 developed new reproducible mild visual field defects (HVF ∆MD -1.78 and -4.49). All patients showed more than the 6% weight gain, typically observed in recurrent IIH. Eleven patients gained more than their weight from initial diagnosis. Eight patients had excess pregnancy weight gain. Six patients discontinued pharmacologic therapy for IIH.
Conclusions: Weight gain seems to carry a lower risk in IIH patients when associated with pregnancy. This is suggested by the high rate of stable or even decreased disc edema in patients despite medication discontinuation and excess pregnancy weight gain. We postulate these findings may be related to changes in weight distribution or endocrine changes during pregnancy.
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