The management of epilepsy during pregnancy involves optimizing seizure control for the mother, while ensuring the best outcome for the developing fetus. Preconception counseling regarding contraception, folic acid, and antiseizure medications (ASMs) will maximize positive outcomes. Folic acid supplementation is recommended to decrease risk of neural tube defects, similar to the general population, and has been associated with improved cognitive outcomes and decreased risk of autistic traits in offspring. Efforts should be made to optimize the ASM regimen before pregnancy to the fewest number of ASMs, lowest effective doses, with avoidance of more teratogenic agents such as valproic acid. Valproic acid is associated with the highest increased risk of major congenital malformations, as well as reduced cognitive outcomes and neurodevelopmental disorders. Decreasing or changing ASMs during pregnancy should be done with caution, as convulsive seizures have been associated with adverse fetal outcomes including cognitive impairment. Physiologic changes during pregnancy affect ASM levels and in turn, risk for seizures, necessitating frequent monitoring of ASM serum concentrations. Mothers should also be counseled postpartum about how the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the transmission of medication into breast milk. Communication between providers (obstetrics and neurology) and pregnant women with epilepsy is essential.
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