Pregnant women with epilepsy at greater risk of death during childbirth

A new study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers found that women with epilepsy have a more than 10-fold higher risk of dying during their delivery hospitalization, and are at increased risk for preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications, when compared with women who do not have the condition.

The findings were presented at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting in April 2015.

Sarah MacDonald, SM ’15, and colleagues used data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample collected from 2007 to 2011. The sample included 69,385 women with epilepsy and 20,449,532 women without epilepsy. They found that those with epilepsy had a significantly higher risk of death during their delivery hospitalization than those who did not (80 per 100,000 compared to 6 per 100,000). The study was part of her master’s thesis under Sonia Hernandez-Diaz, professor of epidemiology.

“No one could have predicted such a high risk of mortality, particularly since it is such a rare outcome [during delivery],” MacDonald told Neurology Advisor in an April 23, 2015 article. “You would need to observe 100,000s of cases to be able to predict that outcome. I think our dataset is unique in that it is so large.”

Maternal mortality, morbidity greater with epilepsy (Neurology Advisor)

Pregnant women with epilepsy may benefit from more vigilant obstetrical care (Neurology Advisor video interview)