Maternal BMI May Affect Epilepsy Risk in Offspring

HealthDay News — The rates of childhood epilepsy increase with maternal overweight and obesity, according to a study published in JAMA Neurology.

Neda Razaz, MPH, PhD, from the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, and colleagues examined the correlation between early pregnancy body mass index (BMI) and the risk of childhood epilepsy in a population-based cohort study involving 1,441,551 live single births at 22 or more completed gestational weeks, with complete covariate information available.

The researchers found that 0.5% of the children were diagnosed with epilepsy (46.5% female). Among children aged 28 days to 16 years, the overall incidence of epilepsy was 6.79 per 10,000 child-years. The adjusted hazard ratios for epilepsy among offspring by maternal BMI categories compared with normal-weight mothers were 1.11 for overweight, 1.20 for obesity grade I, 1.30 for obesity grade II, and 1.82 for obesity grade III. Children with malformations of the nervous system, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, and neonatal convulsions had significantly increased rates of epilepsy (adjusted hazard ratios, 46.4, 23.6, and 33.5, respectively). The rates of epilepsy were significantly increased among children with neonatal hypoglycemia, respiratory distress syndrome, and neonatal jaundice (adjusted hazard ratios, 2.10, 2.43, and 1.47, respectively).

“Given that overweight and obesity are modifiable, prevention of obesity may be an important public health strategy to reduce the incidence of childhood epilepsy,” the authors wrote.


Razaz N, Tedroff K, Villamor E, Cnattingius S. Maternal body mass index in early pregnancy and risk of epilepsy in offspring [published online April 03, 2017]. JAMA Neurol. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.6130