A recent study shows that pregnant women affected by epilepsy have a tenfold increased risk of dying while giving birth than healthy women.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and the results remained consistent even after researchers adjusted them for other risk factors.
Researchers noted that there are 80 deaths per 100,000 pregnant women with epilepsy and only six deaths per 100,000 pregnant women without epilepsy every year.
The study also found a link between epilepsy and a cohort of pregnancy complications including preterm labor, stillbirth and pre-eclampsia (PE). PE patients had also a higher risk of frequent seizures than their peers without epilepsy.
Researchers also observed other pregnancy complications that may be associated with epilepsy in pregnant women including severe bleeding after and during delivery, abnormalities to the child, or childhood stunting in their offspring.
The results were adjusted for age, ethnic group, social status, income, and hospital location. Additionally, the risk of death remained consistent even after adjusting for postpartum bleeding and PE.
Women affected by epilepsy were also more likely to undergo C-section surgery during delivery and stay longer in the hospital for recovery (more than six days on average). Nevertheless, epilepsy mothers that didn’t undergo cesarean birth also had longer hospital stays.
An American Academy of Neurology report published six years ago analyzed the complications epilepsy may involve in pregnant women but failed to address mortality risk. As a result, lead-author of the recent study Dr. Sarah C. MacDonald felt compelled to conduct a fresh study on the issue.
Dr. MacDonald said that she and her team were astonished by the link between the diseases and high mortality rate. But the association between pregnancy complications and epilepsy was also a big surprise.
The team noted that these risks were statistically significant. Researchers argued that the “absolute risk” is still low, but the risk reported to patients remains significant. Scientists also argued that other studies on the matter are not that reliable as their own because the data sets used in previous studies were a lot smaller.
The latest study analyzed patient data from National Inpatient Sample which included 4,190,599 hospitalizations of pregnant women ready for delivery between 2007 and 2011. More than 14,000 moms in the study also had epilepsy.
Researchers also found that women affected by epilepsy also had a higher risk of mental disorders, high blood pressure, substance abuse and type 2 diabetes.
Image Source: Love to Know Pregnancy