Achieving neurologically desirable outcomes to pregnancy in women with epilepsy

Frank J.E. Vajda, Terence J. O'Brien, Janet E. Graham, Alison E. Hitchcock, Piero Perucca, Cecilie M. Lander, Mervyn J. Eadie

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Objectives: To investigate possible factors that influenced whether pregnancy in women with epilepsy resulted in the desirable outcome of a live-born non-malformed infant and a mother whose pregnancy had been seizure free. Results: The desirable outcome, as defined, occurred in 46.3% of unselected pregnancies in the database of the Australian Register of Antiepileptic Drugs in Pregnancy (APR). The only factor investigated that had a statistically significant (P < 0.05) effect, increasing the chance of such a desirable outcome, was freedom from seizures in the pre-pregnancy year. However, anti-seizure medication (ASM) doses, particularly valproate doses, had been reduced prior to 15.6% of the pregnancies, and this may have concealed factors that otherwise may have adversely affected the desirable outcome rate. Analysis of data for monotherapy with the more commonly used ASMs appears to suggest that employing levetiracetam at the outset of antiseizure therapy may offer a better chance of a desirable outcome to future pregnancies than monotherapy with other ASMs, but this finding is not confirmed statistically. Conclusions: In pregnancies where valproate use has already been minimized, seizure control throughout the pre-pregnancy year was associated with the best chance of a desirable outcome, as defined above. In most Australian women starting therapy for epilepsy initiating treatment with levetiracetam monotherapy may offer the best chance of such a desirable outcome to a future pregnancy, yet to be confirmed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108602
Number of pages5
JournalEpilepsy & Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Epilepsy
  • Fetal malformation
  • Levetiracetam
  • Pregnancy
  • Seizure control
  • Valproate

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