The risk of dying during pregnancy is five times higher for women with epilepsy, finds a new study.
According to the study, from the Aarhus University in Denmark, pregnant women with epilepsy die of virtually the same conditions and events that women without epilepsy die of – ranging from accidents to blood clots, cancer and suicide – although with a greater frequency.
The results should be seen in light of the fact that, in general, people with epilepsy have a higher mortality rate than the rest of the population. Overall, for women of childbearing age the mortality rate is 15 times higher, the researchers said.
"We can't produce statistics on causes of death on the basis of five deceased pregnant women with epilepsy but we can conclude with great statistical certainty that pregnant women with epilepsy die five times more frequently than other pregnant women," said Jakob Christensen, Associate Professor at the varsity.
For the study, the team examined a total of 2,110,084 pregnancies among which 11,976 (0.6 per cent) were pregnant women with epilepsy and a total of 176 women died during their pregnancy.
Mortality among women with epilepsy was compared with the mortality rate for women of the same age and social background.
"Although the absolute risk is small, we have to consider how we can follow pregnant women with epilepsy better than today," Christensen said.
" We must take into account that the vast majority of pregnant women with epilepsy receive medication and are closely monitored during pregnancy, and that this probably helps to reduce the overall mortality because close monitoring means that there is better management of their epileptic seizures," he said.
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting approximately sixty million people globally.