Epilepsy in pregnancy and reproductive outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Significant association of epilepsy, exposure to antiepileptic drugs, and adverse outcomes exists in pregnancy

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A small but significant association of epilepsy, exposure to antiepileptic drugs, and adverse outcomes exists in pregnancy. Image via Lucie Otto-Bruc.

2015 Study Abstract

Background
Antenatal care of women with epilepsy is varied. The association of epilepsy and antiepileptic drug exposure with pregnancy outcomes needs to be quantified to guide management. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the association between epilepsy and reproductive outcomes, with or without exposure to antiepileptic drugs.

Methods
We searched MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane, AMED, and CINAHL between Jan 1, 1990, and Jan 21, 2015, with no language or regional restrictions, for observational studies of pregnant women with epilepsy, which assessed the risk of obstetric complications in the antenatal, intrapartum, or postnatal period, and any neonatal complications. We used the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale to assess the methodological quality of the included studies, risk of bias in the selection and comparability of cohorts, and outcome. We assessed the odds of maternal and fetal complications (excluding congenital malformations) by comparing pregnant women with and without epilepsy and undertook subgroup analysis based on antiepileptic drug exposure in women with epilepsy. We summarised the association as odds ratio (OR; 95% CI) using random effects meta-analysis. The PROSPERO ID of this Systematic Review’s protocol is CRD42014007547.

Findings
Of 7050 citations identified, 38 studies from low-income and high-income countries met our inclusion criteria (39 articles including 2 837 325 pregnancies). Women with epilepsy versus those without (2 809 984 pregnancies) had increased odds of spontaneous miscarriage (OR 1·54, 95% CI 1·02–2·32; I2=67%), antepartum haemorrhage (1·49, 1·01–2·20; I2=37%), post-partum haemorrhage (1·29, 1·13–1·49; I2=41%), hypertensive disorders (1·37, 1·21–1·55; I2=23%), induction of labour (1·67, 1·31–2·11; I2=64%), caesarean section (1·40, 1·23–1·58; I2=66%), any preterm birth (

Interpretation
A small but significant association of epilepsy, exposure to antiepileptic drugs, and adverse outcomes exists in pregnancy. This increased risk should be taken into account when counselling women with epilepsy.

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