Epilepsy may increase death risk during childbirth

Women with epilepsy may be at a higher risk for complications and death during childbirth, says a new study.

The researchers found that women with epilepsy have a risk of 80 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies, which is higher than the six deaths per 100,000 pregnancies found among women without epilepsy.

“Regardless of the specific cause, the point that women recorded as having epilepsy have an increased risk of mortality remains a clinically relevant message, suggesting that increased attention should be paid,” the study authors wrote.

For the study, Sarah MacDonald from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and co-authors took data from a retrospective study of pregnant women identified through hospitalisation records from 2007 to 2011.

A total of nearly 4.2 million delivery-related discharges were included in the study group and of these 14,151 were women with epilepsy.

Besides higher risk of death during delivery, women with epilepsy were at increased risk for other adverse outcomes, including pre-eclampsia, preterm labour and stillbirth, the researchers said.

However, they acknowledged that their data lacked the ultimate causes of death during delivery among women with epilepsy.

“Future research is needed to determine the specific causes of mortality and how interventions might improve outcomes,” the authors wrote.

The study was published online by JAMA Neurology.