Objective: We studied the course of pregnancy in women with epilepsy to identify possible risk factors which might complicate the epilepsies and pregnancy outcomes.
Material and methods: Data were collected retrospectively from the records of 151 pregnancies in 124 women with epilepsy from 1978-1992. Epilepsy variables were compared with that of non-pregnant women with epilepsy matched for age. Obstetric and neonatal variables were compared with those of all deliveries in the same unit from 1979-1992 (n=38,983).
Results: Pregnancy among patients with epilepsy was more likely to occur in women with relatively mild epilepsy. In 12% of the pregnancies, the women were untreated while 71% were on monotherapy. Twenty-one percent had increased seizure frequency during the pregnancy. Perinatal deaths among newborns of epileptic mothers (1.3%) was more frequent but not significantly increased compared to the background population of 0.5% (95% CI 0.2-4.7). A total of 5.3% had congenital malformations compared to 1.5% in the controls (95% CI 2.3-10.3). No neural tube defects were observed. Maternal treatment with phenytoin was significantly related to the occurrence of congenital malformations, P=0.04.
Conclusions: Most women with epilepsy have an uncomplicated pregnancy and normal healthy offsprings. Maternal treatment with phenytoin might be associated with congenital malformations. No other risk factors could be identified.