Seizure Disorders (Epilepsy) and Pregnancy


Seizures occur when there is a surge of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can cause a wide range of symptoms, from temporary confusion to uncontrollable movements of the arms and legs to loss of consciousness.

Women with seizure disorders (also known as epilepsy) face unique challenges during pregnancy that can put the health of mother and baby at risk. If you have a seizure disorder and are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy, you may be referred to a maternal-fetal medicine physician, an OB/GYN who specializes in managing high-risk pregnancies.

Potential Pregnancy Complications

Women with seizure disorders are at increased risk of pregnancy complications that include:

  • Increase in seizure frequency and severity
  • Low birth weight
  • Birth defects caused by anti-seizure medications, including cleft lip or palate, heart defects, and neural tube defects (birth defects of the spine and brain)
  • Bleeding in the newborn

Plan Ahead to Reduce Your Risks

Preconception planning can help women with epilepsy reduce the risk of complications and improve pregnancy outcomes.

If you have a seizure disorder and are considering pregnancy, visit with your healthcare team before becoming pregnant to:

  • Assess your risks and learn how to reduce them
  • Review and adjust your medications to optimize seizure control while minimizing the risks to your future baby
  • Begin taking prenatal vitamins, including additional folic acid which may prevent certain birth defects

What to Expect during Pregnancy

Your prenatal care will depend on your condition and history of seizures, your individual pregnancy, and the health of you and your unborn baby.

In general, treatment may include:

  • Specialized care from a maternal-fetal medicine physician
  • Frequent prenatal visits
  • More frequent visits with your neurologist
  • Regular blood testing to monitor your antiseizure medications and make adjustments, as needed
  • Ultrasounds to track fetal growth
  • Genetic counseling
  • Optional screening and diagnostic testing for birth defects, including blood tests, ultrasounds, amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
  • A multidisciplinary healthcare team including neurologists, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, pharmacists knowledgeable in seizure medications during pregnancy, and pediatric specialists

The Benefits of Specialized Care

Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women offers specialized care to help women with seizure disorders achieve the safest, healthiest pregnancy possible. Our maternal-fetal medicine specialists are experienced in the evaluation and management of these high-risk pregnancies, carefully assessing and balancing the treatment needs of the mother with the risks to the baby.

We offer: