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Seizure. 2013 Mar;22(2):91-8. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2012.11.001. Epub 2012 Nov 24.

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

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Birmingham City University, Centre for Health and Social Care Research, Faculty of Health, Birmingham City University, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3TN, UK.



This study aimed to investigate the experiences of pregnancy in women living with epilepsy through a review and synthesis of existing literature.


A comprehensive search of the literature was conducted in medical and social science databases to identify qualitative research, and questionnaires that included open-ended questions, which reported on the impact of epilepsy on the lives of pregnant women from preconception to post-delivery. The search was widened to include qualitative studies on pregnancy and issues of reproduction with women living with chronic illness that had at least one woman with epilepsy in the sample. The systematic search, carried out from April to June 2012, identified 17 publications that met the inclusion criteria, and 24 publications that did not. Qualitative results from these studies were categorised into: stage of pregnancy (preconception, pregnancy, and postnatal); case studies of patients' experiences; and the reproductive health experiences of women living with chronic illness.


One qualitative study was identified that directly investigated women's experiences of epilepsy during pregnancy. Many of the findings from the 16 remaining publications were found to be limited in generalisability due to small sample sizes and/or the poor quality of data.


Qualitative research on women's experiences of pregnancy whilst living with epilepsy is needed to address this critical gap in knowledge. This paper calls for improved preconception, pregnancy and postnatal supports and information for women living with this condition.

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