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All about epilepsy seizures types of epilepsy common types of epilepsy types of seizures causes of epilepsy causes of children epilepsy factors triggering epilepsy symptoms of epilepsy diagnosis of epilepsy treatments for epilepsy epilepsy medications epilepsy surgery vagus nerve stimulation epilepsy diet prevention of epilepsy epilepsy in children pregnancy and epilepsy difference between seizures and epilepsy grand mal seizure absence seizure (petit mal seizure) febrile seizure epileptic seizures status epilepticus causes of seizures

Pregnancy and epilepsy

Women with epilepsy who become pregnant have a higher risk for complications than women who don't have epilepsy. These complications include the possibility that a woman’s seizures will occur more often. The seizures can cause the woman to fall and have a serious injury. When the woman is pregnant, her body processes the woman’s anti-seizure

medicines differently. This can lead to medicine levels that are too high (which can cause side effects) or too low (which can mean more seizures). Every woman who has epilepsy and becomes pregnant will react differently, so the woman’s doctor will talk to the woman about the risks and monitor the woman and the woman’s baby closely.

More than 90% of women with epilepsy have normal, healthy babies. But there are some risks. Babies of mothers with epilepsy have a higher risk of being stillborn. They might also have a slightly greater risk of developing seizures as they get older. There is also more risk for problems such as bleeding, early birth and delays in development and growth, as well as the possibility of birth defects due to the medicine the woman take. However, the risks if the woman doesn’t take the woman’s medicine are much higher for the woman’s baby, and include physical injury, developmental delay and even death from the woman’s seizures.

Pregnancy in women with epilepsy raises some special concerns. The vast majority of women with epilepsy who become pregnant have healthy babies. There are some simple steps that can be followed to increase the chances of a healthy baby. The risk of major malformations (e.g. heart defects, spina bifida, etc) is estimated at 4 percent to 6 percent or approximately twice the risk in the women without epilepsy not taking antiepileptic drugs. This means more than 90 percent of pregnancies are free of major birth defects.

The risk that children of parents with epilepsy will themselves develop epilepsy is only about 5% unless the parent has a clearly hereditary form of the disorder. A genetic counselor can help determine the risks for a specific type of epilepsy. Amniocentesis and ultrasound can help assure that a baby is developing normally. Some antiepileptic drugs can slightly increase the risk for birth defects such as cleft palate, spinal problems and heart problems. Under ideal circumstances, a woman should give her doctor enough time to adjust medications before she tries to become pregnant. However, if a woman becomes pregnant before talking with her doctor, she should continue taking seizure medication as prescribed until the doctor can make any necessary changes. Labor and delivery are usually normal for women with epilepsy. Antiepileptic drugs can be given intravenously during labor to reduce the risk of a seizure. Babies sometimes have symptoms of withdrawal from the mother's seizure medication, but these wear off after a few months and usually don't cause long-term problems. Women on antiepileptic medications can breast-feed safely. The amount of medication consumed in the breast milk is considerably lower than the amount the baby was exposed to in the womb, and the benefits of breast-feeding usually outweigh the risks.

During the woman’s pregnancy, the woman will see doctor often. The woman’s doctor will do blood tests to be sure that the she is getting enough seizure medicine. It's very common for changes to be made in the dose of the woman’s medicine during the woman’s pregnancy. The woman’s doctor may also want the woman to have several ultrasound exams (called sonograms) during the woman’s pregnancy. The woman may even have an amniocentesis. In this procedure, a small amount of fluid is removed from the woman’s uterus. This fluid gives the woman’s doctor some information about the health of the woman’s unborn baby. The woman’s doctor will explain this test to the woman if the woman needs to have one.

It's very important that the woman take the woman’s seizure medicine just as the woman’s doctor tells the woman. If the woman hasn't had any seizures for two years or more, the woman’s doctor may wish to try and slowly stop the woman’s seizure medicine. It's also very important for the woman to take vitamin supplements and folic acid (a B vitamin), which can help prevent certain kinds of birth defects. Taking these vitamins before the woman gets pregnant will give the woman the most benefit. Tell the woman’s doctor about any history in the woman’s family (or in the family of the baby's father) of brain or spinal defects. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly are other things the woman can do to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

More information on epilepsy (seizures)

What is epilepsy? - Epilepsy is a general term that includes various types of seizures. Epilepsy is characterized by unprovoked, recurring seizures that disrupt the nervous system.
What are seizures? - Seizures (or convulsions) are temporary alterations in brain functions due to abnormal electrical activity of a group of brain cells that present with apparent clinical symptoms and findings.
What types of seizures are there? - The two main categories of seizures include partial seizures and generalized seizures. A partial seizure can evolve to a generalized seizure.
What types of epilepsy are there? - There are several types of epilepsy. Epilepsy can be divided into two broad categories: idiopathic epilepsy and symptomatic epilepsy.
What're the common types of epilepsy? - The most common types of epilepsy are absence epilepsy, temporal lobe epilepsy, frontal lobe epilepsy, occipital lobe epilepsy, and parietal lobe epilepsy.
What causes epilepsy? - Epilepsy may be caused by a number of unrelated conditions, including damage resulting from high fever, stroke, toxicity, or electrolyte imbalances.
What causes children epilepsy? - There are many possible causes of epilepsy in children. Seizures in infants and children may be due to birth defects, difficulties during delivery, or poisoning.
What factors will trigger epilepsy? - The triggers of epilepsy include inadequate sleep, food allergies, alcohol and smoking, flashing lights, developmental anomalies, and brain tumours.
What're the symptoms of epilepsy? - There are many forms of epilepsy, each with its own characteristic symptoms. The basic symptom of epilepsy is a brief and abnormal phase of behavior.
How is epilepsy diagnosed? - Making an accurate diagnosis is vital in planning the correct treatment to control seizures. Taking a medical history can help rule out non-epilepsy conditions.
What're the treatments for epilepsy? - For most people with epilepsy, treatment can reduce or prevent seizures and allow many patients to remain free of seizures for the rest of their lives.
What epilepsy medications are available? - Epilepsy is often treated with medication, neurocybernetic prostheses. Medications available for the treatment of seizures include phenytoin, carbamazepine, divalproex.
What epilepsy surgeries are available? - Surgical techniques to remove injured brain tissue may be appropriate for many patients with epilepsy. The most common surgery for epilepsy is temporal lobectomy.
What is vagus nerve stimulation? - Vagus nerve stimulation is a recently developed form of seizure control which uses an implanted electrical device.
What epilepsy diet is suggested? - It is believe that a restricted caloric intake while on a balanced diet can lead to measurable seizure reduction among all age groups.
How to prevent epilepsy? - Effective actions for the prevention of epilepsy include adequate pre-natal and post-natal care, safe delivery, control of fever in children, control of parasitic diseases.
Epilepsy in children - Epilepsy is a common childhood disorder. The prospect of control by means of anti-epileptic drugs is good in most children with epilepsy.
Pregnancy and epilepsy - Women with epilepsy who become pregnant have a higher risk for complications than women who don't have epilepsy.
Difference between seizures and epilepsy - Seizures are a symptom of epilepsy. Epilepsy is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce a sudden burst of electrical energy.
What's a grand mal seizure? - A grand mal seizure is a seizure involving the entire body, usually characterized by muscle rigidity, violent rhythmic muscle contractions, and loss of consciousness.
What's absence seizure (petit mal seizure)? - Absence seizure e - also known as petit mal seizure - is a type of seizure that most often occurs in children.
What is a febrile seizure? - A febrile seizure is a convulsion in a child triggered by a fever. A febrile seizure may be as mild as the child's eyes rolling or limbs stiffening.
What are epileptic seizures? - An epileptic seizure, often referred to as a fit, occurs when there is an abnormal discharge of neurones in the brain.
What is status epilepticus? - Status epilepticus is a continuous seizure state. Status epilepticus is most often caused by not taking anticonvulsant medication as prescribed.
What causes seizures? - Seizures may be caused by many conditions, diseases, injuries, and other factors. Injuries that may cause seizures include choking, head injury.
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