August 23, 2021

Risk Factors of Fetal Deaths and Major Birth Defects in Newborns of Women with Epilepsy: An Egyptian Prospective Study

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Objectives: Pregnancy registries for women with epilepsy (WWE) are arising all over the world. The aim of this work was to assess the risk factors of pregnancy losses and major birth defects (MBDs) of WWE through the Egyptian Registry of Anti-seizure medications and Pregnancy system.

Methods: An observational prospective study was conducted over 24 months (2018-2020). The following data were assessed: seizure control during pregnancy, Anti-seizure medications (ASMs) regimen, folic acid supplementation, and birth outcome.

Results: This study included 211 pregnant WWE, with mean age of 27.30 ± 5.51 years. One hundred eighty-six (89.9%) patients were on ASMs, from which 110 (59.1%) patients were on monotherapy. One hundred sixty-nine (80.0%) had healthy living babies, while fetal deaths occurred in 27 patients (12.8%) (25 abortions and 2 stillbirth), two patients (1%) had neonatal deaths, while 13 patients (6.2%) had living babies with MBDs. Although taking folic acid in the first trimester was a protective of fetal deaths (RR < 1, P 0.011), it was not a protective of MBDs. Seizure freedom during the entire pregnancy regardless of seizure type was another protective factor against fetal deaths (RR < 1, P < 0.001). Polytherapy exposure significantly increased the risk of MBDs compared with monotherapies (RR > 1, P 0.014). History of previous MBD was another risk factor of MBDs (RR > 1, P 0.027).

Conclusion: History of previous major birth defects and polytherapy exposure increased the risk of major birth defects. Taking folic acid during first trimester and being seizure free during pregnancy were protective factors against fetal deaths.

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