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Epilepsy Linked To Preeclampsia

A study reported in the medical journal Pediatrics reports that for women who develop preeclampsia during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of epilepsy in their children who are born after 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Preeclampsia is a condition that develops after the 20th week of pregnancy.  It is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine.  The best treatment is to deliver the infant.  If this is not feasible, bed rest, close monitoring, and delivery as soon survival outside of the womb is likely is recommended, preferably after the 37th week of pregnancy.  Women are usually hospitalized and carefully monitored.

Prior research has identified eclampsia as a strong risk factor for epilepsy in offspring, but whether the same held true with preeclampsia was unclear.  Eclampsia occurs when pre-eclampsia worsens and is characterized by seizures, agitation and unconsciousness.  Eclampsia is considered a medical emergency and jeopardizes the life of the mother and child.

Preeclampsia exposure was also linked to epilepsy in children born after 37 weeks of gestation. With mild preeclampsia, the epilepsy rate was increased by 16 and 68 percent for full-term and postterm infants, respectively. For severe preeclampsia, the corresponding risks increased by 41 percent and 157 percent.

Consistent with previous reports, eclampsia was associated with a stronger risk of epilepsy.