Epilepsy is one of the common and non-communicable disorders which affects the human brain. A person may experience sudden episodes of sensory disturbance in the body, jerks, loss of consciousness due to unusual changes in the brain.
According to WHO, almost 50 million people worldwide are affected with Epilepsy making it the fourth common neurological disorder. However, for lack of awareness in many parts of the world, people consider Epilepsy as a curse or possession. Social taboos make it difficult for patients to live peacefully.
Epilepsy can increase complications during pregnancy. On the occasion of National Epilepsy Day, CitySpidey talked to Gynecologist Dr Amodita Ahuja on 'Epilepsy and Pregnancy'.
Right in the beginning, she broke an important myth that 'epileptic women can't get pregnant. Epilepsy is surely a chronic disease that can happen to anyone but Epilepsy during pregnancy raises concern about mothers' as well as babies health. Special care is required during the pregnancy of an epileptic patient.
Here are a few excerpts from the conversation-
Is my baby safe if I am epileptic?
Dr Amodita Ahuja shared "there is no direct effect of Epilepsy on the baby during pregnancy but medication which mother is consuming can result in congenital monies such as malformation or birth defect in spine, brain or any other part of the body."
What is the doctor's advice to an epileptic mother?
Preconceptional counselling is very important. Dr Ahuja says, "If a mother is already diagnosed with epilepsy before conceiving then she must consult a neurologist and a gynaecologist 6 months before planning a pregnancy." The doctors would help a patient to understand their condition better and change certain drugs to baby-friendly and pregnancy-safe medicine.
Why are medicines advised to replace?
Dr Ahuja explained that during pregnancy, folic acid is required for the development of the fetus's brain and spinal cord but most of the epileptic medicines are meant to deficient the level of folic acid in patients. Therefore some medicines are replaced to make the growth of the baby and delivery safe.
What if epilepsy is diagnosed for the first time, during pregnancy?
Unfortunately, there are no tests to diagnose Epilepsy. Only a symptomatic diagnosis can help an individual to identify the issue, therefore pregnant women who diagnose epilepsy for the first time are suggested to seek medical help to make their pregnancy journey and growth of baby safe.
Dr Amodita added, "Pregnant women should consume a well balanced and hygienic diet to stay healthy and fine."
Is it Epilepsy or Eclampsia?
Many times a mother can experience sudden fits, due to high blood pressure. This condition is known as eclampsia which can sometimes be confused with Epilepsy. During Eclampsia, the fetus's life can be at threat due to intrauterine death because the blood supply during the episodes decreases. Babies' growth can also be decreased. If you come across such a situation kindly contact healthcare professionals to prevent any serious cause.
Dr Ahuja advises "a well-known case of Epilepsy should be consulted before planning a pregnancy as it can help in a normal delivery with proper guidance."