Epilepsy and women

Clearinghouse Connector – December 2014

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Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions, affecting one in 26 people during their lifetime. In adulthood the incidence of epilepsy is equal among men and women. It is estimated that more than 250,000 Australians are living with epilepsy at any point in time, half of whom are women. Epilepsy can be more disruptive to quality of life than many other chronic conditions because of its: hidden, episodic, and unpredictable nature; potential for injury and death; frequency of comorbidities, and associated stigma. The condition can have profound social, physical and psychological consequences. Epilepsy and treating medications may significantly impact on women’s sexual and reproductive health, and pregnancy management. In Australia, approximately 1,500 to 2,000 women on antiepileptic drugs become pregnant each year, and more than 95% will deliver a healthy baby. Mothers with epilepsy need specific strategies to maximise safety when breastfeeding and caring for infants and young children.


Epilepsy : lifestyle issues (Better Health Channel Factsheet) Victoria. Department of Health, 2012

The effects of epilepsy medication on women’s health and fertility Epilepsy Queensland, 2010

Epilepsy : overview HealthyWomen (U.S.A.), 2011

Sexual and reproductive health

Women’s health and epilepsy Medscape.com, 2013

Women living with epilepsy, experiences of pregnancy and reproductive health : a review of the literature Seizure, 2013

Women and epilepsy Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 2009

Antiepileptic drugs and contraception Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), 2010

Discussion tool for women with epilepsy American Epilepsy Society, 2012

Pregnancy care

Epilepsy in pregnancy : a collaborative team effort of obstetricians, neurologists and primary care physicians for a successful outcome Australian Family Physician, 2014

Epilepsy and pregnancy management (South Australian Paediatric Clinical Guidelines) South Australia. Department of Health, 2012

Management issues for women with epilepsy : focus on pregnancy : I. Obstetrical complications and change in seizure frequency Epilepsia, 2009

Management of pregnancy in women with epilepsy Epilepsy Report, 2006

Teratogenesis and perinatal outcomes

Study links epilepsy drug dosage to birth defects Health Issues (Victoria. Department of Health), 2013

Treatment for epilepsy in pregnancy : neurodevelopmental outcomes in the child Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2014

Pregnancy registries : differences, similarities, and possible harmonization Epilepsia, 2010

Management issues for women with epilepsy : focus on pregnancy : II. Teratogenesis and perinatal outcomes Epilepsia, 2009

Management issues for women with epilepsy : focus on pregnancy : III. Vitamin K, folic acid, blood levels, and breast-feeding Epilepsia, 2009

Mothers with epilepsy

Problems that mothers with epilepsy experience when caring for their children Seizure, 2008

Practical information for mothers with epilepsy National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (NICE) U.K., 2004

Psychosocial impacts

Epileptics shouldn’t have to fear stigma ABC Online. The Drum, 2013

The “E” word : epilepsy and perceptions of unfair treatment from the 2010 Australian Epilepsy Longitudinal Survey Epilepsy Australia, 2013

‘Out of the shadows’ : needs, perceptions and experiences of people living with epilepsy in Australia The Australian Longitudinal Epilepsy Study (ALES), 2012

Quality of life and community resources In: Epilepsy across the spectrum : promoting health and understanding National Academies Press (U.S.), 2012

Social and psychological issues in patients with epilepsy In: Novel aspects on epilepsy InTech, 2011 – Chapter 16

Long-term health

Bones and fat : metabolic side effects of chronic antiepileptic use The Epilepsy Report, 2009

Anti-epileptic drugs and bone health (ESA Position Statement) Epilepsy Society of Australia, 2009

Epilepsy in the elderly Medscape Multispecialty, 2013

Policy development

A fair go for people living with epilepsy in Australia : a report for the Parliamentary Friends of Epilepsy Joint Epilepsy Council of Australia, 2009

Informal inquiry into the impact of epilepsy in Australia [report and recommendations] Parliamentary Friends of Epilepsy, 2009

Related websites

Epilepsy Foundation (Vic.)

Epilepsy Action Australia Women’s issues

Epilepsy Action Australia Issues for young people

Epilepsy Action (U.K.) Girl talk for teenage girls with epilepsy

Epilepsy Action (U.K.) Women’s campaigns

Epilepsy Advocate (U.S.) Women succeeding with epilepsy

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