Grand Mal Seizures and the Dangers They Pose on a Pregnant Woman and Her Child
Grand mal seizures, also known as tonic-clonic seizures, are caused by disorders in the electrical activities of the brain. Electrical signals in the brain are transmitted as nerve impulses and the relaying of these impulses are controlled by neurotransmitters. When the transmission of these impulses is disrupted, grand mal seizures can occur.
One of the primary concerns of most women who have grand mal seizures is the possible effects of the seizures on their pregnancy and on their unborn child. While most women with seizures experience a safe pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby, it is always better to take the risks seriously and prepare for the pregnancy and childbirth conscientiously than be sorry in the end.
Pre-Natal Care for Women with Grand Mal Seizures
Unborn Children Who Are Exposed to Certain Anti-Epileptic Drugs Are More Likely to Have Birth Defects
If you are planning to have a child, it is advisable to consult your doctor first. Some anti-epileptic medications are very harmful to a developing child and can cause birth defects. Valproic acid, for example, causes defects in the neural tube such as spina bifida or open spine. Developmental problems and physical malformations are also evident in children who were exposed to valproic acid while in their mother’s womb. However, grand mal seizures, especially the violent ones, are also very dangerous for both the mother and the child. Miscarriages and accidents can occur, and hence it is not advisable to totally stop your medications. Your doctor may prescribe a different drug to control your seizures and get you safely through pregnancy and childbirth.
One of the most important supplements all women, with or without seizures, should take prior to pregnancy is folic acid. This substance ensures the proper development of the child’s nervous system. Organ meats, legumes, citrus fruits, whole grains, and dark, leafy vegetables are very rich in folic acid. Take at least 0.4 mg of folic acid every day before and during the pregnancy to lower the risk of birth defects.
Health Risks for the Pregnant Woman and Her Baby
Pregnancy can alter the production of certain hormones and body processes so there is a possibility that the frequency of your seizures might change. In some women, the frequency of seizures might decrease while in others, it might increase. To prevent complications, ask your doctor to closely monitor the administration of your medications.
According to studies, the risk of having a baby with birth defects for women with grand mal seizures is 6-8%. The birth defects are usually associated with the medications used to control the seizures and some of of these are:
- Spina Bifida
- Cleft Lip or Palate
- Mental Retardation
- Slow Growth and Development
During childbirth, women with grand mal seizures are able to give birth through vaginal delivery. However, in case problems would occur during labor, a caesarean delivery may be considered.
Post-Natal Care for Women with Grand Mal Seizures
After giving birth, your hormone production and other body processes are gradually normalizing. Thus, your anti-epileptic drugs should be altered again. For your child, ask his or her pediatrician for Vitamin K injections. This vitamin is necessary for efficient blood clotting but anti-epileptic drugs decrease the body’s natural levels of Vitamin K so extra doses may be necessary to avoid health problems.
Breastfeeding is also possible for women with grand mal seizures. Although certain amounts of anti-epileptic drugs are excreted in the breast milk, these are only very minute and are not known to affect the child.