Reproductive Issues of Women with Epilepsy


  • Sanjiv V Thomas Professor of Neurology and Head of RMN centre for comprehensive epilepsy care, Department of Neurology, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum-695011, India. Phone 0471 2524468, Email:


Epilepsy, pregnancy, antiepileptic drugs, fetal malformation, infertility, cognition.


There are about 10 million people with epilepsy in India and a quarter of them are women in reproductive age group. The social stigma of epilepsy has pervasive impact on the life of people with epilepsy particularly women. The cyclical hormonal changes during menstrual cycle and during pregnancy can influence the seizure pattern in women with epilepsy. Exposure to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) can increase the risk of fetal malformations in the infants. This risk is higher with polytherapy and valproate in higher doses. A small proportion of children with antenatal AED exposure can have problems with cognitive development. All women with epilepsy need to have preconception evaluation to simplify the treatment of epilepsy. It is preferable to avoid valproate as an AED antiepileptic drug in women who are planning pregnancy.

Keywords : Epilepsy, pregnancy, antiepileptic drugs, fetal malformation, infertility, cognition.



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