Epilepsy Does Not Affect Conception, New Research Finds

A long held myth that epilepsy interferes with conception has been busted.

A long held myth that epilepsy interferes with conception has been busted.

Study findings presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada showed that epilepsy does not affect the chances of getting pregnant. Women with epilepsy who have tried to get pregnant have had the success rate as healthy patients trying to conceive.

Cynthia Harden, MD, system director of epilepsy services, Mirken Department of Neurology, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, New York, and colleagues conducted a study of 89 female patients who were interested in getting pregnant and 109 control patients. The groups were assessed for one year from attempting conception to their pregnancy and delivery.

Study participants were asked to use an app to track medication use, seizures, frequency of sexual activity, and menstrual bleeding. Furthermore, healthy controls used the app to note menses and sexual activity.

The researchers discovered that the epilepsy group had a pregnancy rate was 70.0%, but the healthy controls had a 67.1% pregnancy rate.

Harden explained the two groups “Are actually tracking very close.” There was no significant difference in live births — 81.8% in the epilepsy group and 80% in the healthy control group.

The researchers concluded, “We can likely advise women with epilepsy who are trying to get pregnant that they have as good a chance to achieve pregnancy than if they didn’t have epilepsy.”

They do, however, understand that careful counseling is imperative for women with epilepsy, including information of sexual activity and ovulation.