Experts found that the small population of women with epilepsy who get pregnant may be at a higher risk of developing complications and death during the delivery process. Approximately 0.3-0.5 percent of pregnancies occur in women diagnosed with epilepsy. Although statistical data pertaining to the incidence of pregnancies in epileptic women are identified, information regarding the obstetrical prognosis of these women remains insufficient; therefore, majority of the data available regarding the incidence of death and risk of adverse outcomes in these women lack quantified records.

The researchers, led by Sarah C. MacDonald, B.Sc., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, reviewed data of pregnant women from medical facility records starting 2007-2011. The researchers particularly looked at the obstetrical data such as cesarean delivery, admission duration, preterm labor, preeclampsia and maternal mortality. The number of data collated totaled to approximately 4.2 million patients discharged due to delivery-related conditions; out of this number, 14,151 had a diagnosis of epilepsy. If these numbers will be translated to the national population, the total number of discharges was 20.5 million, women diagnosed with epilepsy were 69,385 and women without epilepsy were at 20.4 million.

The findings of the study published in the online journal JAMA Neurology show that the rate of mortality risk among pregnant women diagnosed with epilepsy is 80 deaths for every 100,000 pregnancies and those who do not have epilepsy had a death risk of 6 deaths for every 100,000 pregnancies. The researchers admitted that they were not able to delve into the exact causes of death of women with epilepsy, who underwent the delivery process. They also said that although the study yielded high number of death risks, deaths among pregnant women with epilepsy are still considered rare.

"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 authors state. "Future research is needed to determine the specific causes of mortality and how interventions might improve outcomes."

The research also proposes that the risk of adverse medical issues such as preeclampsia, stillbirth and preterm labor are more increased among women diagnosed with epilepsy. In the end, the study states that these women were also found to require more healthcare applications; examples of which are increased risk for cesarean section delivery and extended hospital admission regardless of the manner of delivery.

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