EPILEPSY SUPPORT FOR PREGNANT MUMS
Campaigners and NHS professionals in Southend have pledged to work together to promote the importance of advice and care for pregnant women who have epilepsy. The move follows new guidance published at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists World Congress in Birmingham, the first time guidance on epilepsy in pregnancy have been produced.
Diane Blake-Lawson, Chair of the South East Essex Epilepsy Support Group, said: “Epilepsy is a common condition with around 600,000 people suffering from it in the UK of which an estimated 275,000 are women. A third of women with epilepsy are of child-bearing age and most women with epilepsy have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. However, having frequent seizures during pregnancy can be harmful to both mother and baby and pose significant risks. Women with epilepsy need the support of a specialist healthcare team throughout their pregnancy.”
Research shows children born to mothers who take anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) during pregnancy, in particular sodium valproate, are at an increased risk of physical and developmental problems including spina bifida, heart defects and autism. However, the new guideline emphasises that stopping AEDs completely or altering the dose can worsen seizures and pose a serious risk to both mother and baby.
Dr José Garcia Lobera, Chair of NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The guidance is very useful for GPs and shows how important it is that a woman with epilepsy seeks advice from health professionals such as a neurologist, specialist nurse or their GP before conception. There is clearly a need for support and counselling before, during and after pregnancy and we need to make sure a pregnant woman with epilepsy is aware of the benefits of working with her GP in order to ensure appropriate treatment.”
The CCG will be promoting the new guidance to all GPs in Southend-on-Sea and will work with patient groups to ensure information is communicated to patients as well.
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