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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teratogenicity and perinatal outcomes associated with epilepsy and the use of antiepileptic drugs McIntosh, Kristi Anna


Background and Objectives: Epilepsy complicates 0.3 – 0.7% of all pregnancies in developed countries. There is a lack of consensus on appropriate antiepileptic drug (AED) regimens, folic acid supplementation, delivery management, and breastfeeding guidance. This thesis examines how women with epilepsy in British Columbia (BC) and throughout Canada are being managed to concurrently control seizures, decrease teratogenicity and optimize obstetric and perinatal outcomes. Design and Methods: Using BC linked administrative data, I examined utilization of AEDs, teratogenicity and small for gestational age (SGA) outcomes in infants exposed to newer generation AED monotherapy in utero. Using the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 3.1, I compared rates of preconceptual folic acid supplementation and breastfeeding among women with and without epilepsy. Using data from the BC Perinatal Data Registry, I compared rates and indications for induction of labour and cesarean section among women with and without epilepsy. Results: Our study on the BC population demonstrates no risk for both major malformations and SGA outcomes with newer generation AED monotherapy such as gabapentin, topiramate and lamotrigine. While pregabalin was not found to increase the risk for major malformations, it is possible that it does increase the risk for SGA outcomes. Newer generation AEDs were less frequently prescribed during pregnancy than older generation AEDs. Women with epilepsy in Canada were no more likely to supplement with folic acid and were significantly less likely to breastfeed when compared to women without epilepsy. In BC, when compared to women without epilepsy, women with epilepsy were significantly more likely to deliver via cesarean section, induction of labour, assisted vaginal delivery, epidural or general anesthesia. Significant differences observed between women with and without epilepsy in the indications provided for cesarean section included breech, fetal malposition and “Other;” and “Maternal Condition” for those undergoing induction of labour. Conclusion: In women with epilepsy, pregnancy management is best implemented preconceptually. This includes planning for sufficient time to transition to the appropriate AED therapy, and to initiate folic acid supplementation. During preconceptual counselling, women with epilepsy of childbearing age should be apprised of delivery options and encouraged to attempt breastfeeding.

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