Epileptic seizure control during and after pregnancy in Australian women

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

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Objectives: To study factors that affected previous epileptic seizure control throughout pregnancy, during labour, and in the post-natal weeks. Materials & Methods: Analysis of data concerning seizure freedom that was available at various stages of 2337 pregnancies in the Raoul Wallenberg Australian Pregnancy Register of Antiepileptic Drugs, mainly employing multiple variable logistic regression techniques. Results: Based on data available at the outset of pregnancy, the risk of seizure-affected that is, not seizure-free pregnancy was statistically significantly (p <.05) higher in pregnancies where there was previously uncontrolled epilepsy (78.1% vs. 20.8%) and focal epilepsy (51.3% vs. 39.7%), and decreased with later onset-age epilepsy (41.8% vs. 52.2% with onset before age 13 years), The risk did not differ between initially antiseizure medication (ASM)-treated or untreated pregnancies. For epilepsy receiving ASM therapy, 90.6% of 160 pregnancies of women with uncontrolled focal epilepsy that began before the age of 13 were seizure-affected. None of the above factors influenced the risk of seizures during labour, though having seizures during pregnancy increased the hazard (3.93 vs. 0.6%). Either ASM-treated pregnancy or labour being seizure-affected increased the risk of post-partum period seizures (33.0% vs. 6.67% for both stages being seizure-free). Use of particular ASMs had no statistically significant effect on the seizure control situation at any of the pregnancy stages studied. Conclusions: Obtaining full seizure control before pregnancy appeared to be the main factor in maintaining seizure freedom during pregnancy, labour and the post-natal weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-736
Number of pages7
JournalActa Neurologica Scandinavica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • epilepsy
  • labour
  • post-natal period
  • pregnancy
  • seizure freedom

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