If you have epilepsy and become pregnant, stopping medicine treatment is not always the best solution. Having seizures during pregnancy can also harm the baby. And pregnancy causes changes in your body that may increase the frequency of seizures.
Before you become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your epilepsy treatment. Seizures or seizure medicine may cause damage to the baby very early in your pregnancy, before you even know that you are pregnant. Your doctor will help you consider whether potential seizures or continued use of antiepileptic medicine poses the greater risk to your baby.
If you are not yet pregnant but are planning to become pregnant, stopping medicine might be an option if you have been seizure-free for several years. Your doctor may suggest a trial run without the medicine before you become pregnant. Experts recommend that this trial run take place at least 6 months before the pregnancy so that you and your doctor can see the results of stopping your treatment. If you begin having seizures, you may need to go back on medicine.
If you need to stay on medicine during your pregnancy, your doctor may suggest some changes in your treatment that reduce the risk of birth defects. These changes may include:
Your doctor may talk with you about taking vitamin K during your pregnancy.
You may put yourself and your baby at greater risk if you change, reduce, or stop taking your medicine while you are pregnant. Talk with your doctor first.
If you have epilepsy and find out that you are pregnant, consult your doctor immediately. Do not stop taking your medicine without first talking to your doctor.
- Schachter SC (2003). Epilepsy: Etiology and manifestations. In RW Evans, ed., Saunders Manual of Neurologic Practice, part VII, pp. 244–265. Philadelphia: Curtis Center.
- Harden CL, et al. (2009). Practice parameter update: Management issues for women with epilepsy—Focus on pregnancy (an evidence-based review): Teratogenesis and perinatal outcomes: Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee and Therapeutics and Technology Assessment Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Epilepsy Society. Neurology, 73(2): 133–141.
- Harden CL, et al. (2009). Practice parameter update: Management issues for women with epilepsy—Focus on pregnancy (an evidence-based review): Vitamin K, folic acid, blood levels, and breastfeeding: Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee and Therapeutics and Technology Assessment Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and American Epilepsy Society. Neurology, 73(2): 142–149.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Steven C. Schachter, MD - Neurology|
|Last Revised||August 26, 2011|
Last Revised: August 26, 2011
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