OSU Encourages Increased Awareness of Women with Epilepsy
Women's Health and Epilepsy
It was a patient's tearful story that convinced Lucretia Long to try to raise awareness about the health issues surrounding women with epilepsy.
"I had a new patient diagnosed with epilepsy who had been seizure-free for years who told me she could never become pregnant, when in fact we know that 95 percent of epilepsy patients can have successful pregnancies," recalled Long, an epilepsy nurse practitioner at The Ohio State University Medical Center. "That patient now has two healthy children."
It turns out that Long's patient was not alone in her misconceptions about the perceived limitations of her condition. And, Long and colleagues have found, the knowledge gaps among women with epilepsy might be due in part to a lack of awareness about their specific health concerns among primary care practitioners.
Long led a study surveying 202 primary care physicians attending an annual conference to gauge their knowledge of women's issues and epilepsy. The researchers reported that few of the physicians surveyed understood that hormonal fluctuations during a woman's menstrual cycle can affect seizure frequency, and most were unfamiliar with the strong association between epilepsy and increased incidence of female sexual dysfunction. Though at least three-fourths of those surveyed knew that women with epilepsy can have healthy pregnancies, fewer than half knew that women taking anti-seizure medications could safely breastfeed their babies.
The results were published in a recent issue of the journal Epilepsy