Women with epilepsy, without previous infertility and related disorders, who were attempting to get pregnant were as likely to conceive as their counterparts without epilepsy, according to findings recently published in JAMA Neurology.
“Prior studies report lower birth rates for women with epilepsy but have been unable to differentiate between biological and social contributions,” Page B. Pennell, MD, department of neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues wrote. “To our knowledge, we do not have data to inform [women with epilepsy] seeking pregnancy if their likelihood of achieving pregnancy is biologically reduced compared with their peers.”
Researchers recruited, then analyzed data from 197 women — 89 with epilepsy, 108 women without epilepsy — who did not use tobacco and had not been previously diagnosed with infertility or a disorder that lowered their chances of conceiving.
Pennell and colleagues found that 60.7% of the women with epilepsy became pregnant vs. 60.2% of the control group and no epilepsy factors were significant. In addition, after controlling data for age, BMI, education level, employment status, ethnicity, marital status, prior pregnancy and race, researchers found that intercourse activity, ovulatory rates and median time to pregnancy did not differ between the groups. Also, 81.5% of the pregnancies in both groups resulted in live births.