Good News for Expectant or Would-Be Moms with Epilepsy

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(ARA) – Mary Katherine Albritton had a normal childhood despite being diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 6 years old. Her parents worked to teach her about her condition, and she grew up to be a happy adult. But in 2005 she got a surprise — she was pregnant. As an adult with epilepsy, she wondered about the risks to her and her fetus.

“I had six seizures through my pregnancy, but my daughter Taylor was born a healthy, beautiful baby,” says Albritton, who worked closely with her neurologist throughout the course of her pregnancy.

She is just one of a surprisingly large number of women with epilepsy who have had successful childbirths. New guidelines developed by the American Academy of Neurology and the American Epilepsy Society show it’s relatively safe for women with epilepsy to become pregnant, but caution must be taken, including avoiding valproate, an epilepsy drug that can cause birth defects.

“Overall, what we found should be very reassuring to every woman with epilepsy planning to become pregnant,” says Dr. Cynthia Harden, director of the Epilepsy Division at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine and member of the American Academy of Neurology.

For more information about the guidelines visit www.aan.com.

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