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18 April 2016

Study finds women with epilepsy have no more infertility risks than healthy women

Women with epilepsy take no longer to conceive than women without the condition, according to a new study.

The long-term observational study also found that women with epilepsy did not have a significantly greater risk of miscarriage. Eighty-eight women with epilepsy took part in the research and 109 women without the condition.  The women were asked questions about pregnancy and their menstrual cycle during their childbearing years.  They also kept a daily electronic diary that included information about the medication they took, when they got their period, whether they had a seizure and whether they had had sex.

No difference in miscarriage rate

The results of the study showed that there was an almost equivalent rate of pregnancies in the two groups - 61.4 per cent in the epilepsy group and 60.6 per cent in the healthy controls.  The study also found that there was no significant difference in miscarriage rate, and an identical proportion of live births.

Previous studies focused on older medication

The findings were based on the Women with Epilepsy: Pregnancy Outcomes and Deliveries (WEPOD) study.  Similar studies had been done before but using older medication such as phenobarbital that was associated with reduced conception and other problems.  "The study runs counter to older ones that did find women with epilepsy were at risk for miscarriage, infertility, and lower chances of carrying a pregnancy to term," said the lead study author Jacqueline A, French, MD, FAAN, director of translational research and clinical trials in epilepsy at the New York University Langone Medical Center.

"It is reassuring," said Dr. French. "These are the questions we are asked all the time by our patients. I am glad we will finally be able to answer these questions."

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