VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Women with epilepsy are as likely to get pregnant and have similar pregnancy outcomes as their healthy peers, data indicate.
The findings, presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) by Jacqueline A. French, MD, director of epilepsy research and clinical trials at NYU Langone Medical Center, should help reassure both women with epilepsy and their clinicians during family planning.
Previous studies had suggested that women with epilepsy have compromised fertility compared to healthy controls. In order to discern the effects of epilepsy on conception and pregnancy outcomes, Dr French and colleagues enrolled 88 women with epilepsy and 109 healthy controls aged 18 to 41 with similar demographics in the Women With Epilepsy: Pregnancy Outcomes and Deliveries (WEPOD) study.
Study participants used an electronic diary to track medication use, seizures, sexual activity, and menstrual bleeding. Pregnancy tests were performed if no menses occurred by cycle day 35.
Over the course of the study, 61.4% of women with epilepsy achieved pregnancy within a median time of 6 months (95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.8-10.5; P=.9074) compared with 60.6% of healthy controls who achieved pregnancy within a median of 9 months (95% CI: 6.9-12.9; P=.395). No difference in time to pregnancy was observed between the groups after controlling for age, body mass index, parity, and race. Notably, both parity (P=.0083) and race (P=.0007) were significantly associated with time to pregnancy. Among those who achieved pregnancy, a similar proportion of miscarriage (12.9% vs 19.7%), live birth (80% vs 80.3%), or other outcomes (5% vs 0%) occurred in women with epilepsy and healthy controls, respectively.
While women with epilepsy who are planning on getting pregnant should discuss their plans and specific status with their physician, the results indicate that they may do so with more confidence.
French JA, Harden C, Pennell P, et al. A prospective study of pregnancy in women with epilepsy seeking conception (The WEPOD Study). Presented at: The 68th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. April 15-21, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Abstract I5.001.