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Study links miscarriage and epilepsy risk

2 January, 2002

Women with epilepsy who have had a miscarriage are more likely than those with no history of miscarriage to have a child with epilepsy, according to a report in the journal Neurology.

Researchers from the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities studied 791 children born to 385 women with epilepsy. 

The main finding of the report was that children of women with epilepsy who have a history of miscarriage were four to five times more likely to develop epilepsy compared children of women with the condition without a history of miscarriage.

Of the children of women with a miscarriage history, 13 per cent have developed epilepsy by the age of 25, compared to less than 5 per cent of the children of women with no history of miscarriage.

The researchers noted that other risk factors, such as a family history of epilepsy or the mother having seizures while pregnant "moderately" increased the risk of epilepsy for children.

Report co-author Dr Nicole Schupf commented:

"This finding suggests that a history of miscarriage in women with epilepsy might be a marker for or reflect the effects of a genetic susceptibility to epilepsy, which the mother transmits to her offspring but which is also associated with (miscarriage) in some of her pregnancies".