Can Failure to Address Obesity During Pregnancy Cause Epilepsy?

There is no question that when it comes to pregnancy weight is a question most women have – weight gain, weight loss, post-baby weight – you name it, women ask.  Increasing obesity rates have raised yet another question – can “Failure to Address Obesity During Pregnancy Cause Epilepsy?”

It is not uncommon for pregnant women to be considered medically obese during pregnancy.  It is also not uncommon for women who are already overweight or obese to become pregnant.  Both scenarios can create complications that, if left unaddressed, could result in serious injuries to the baby.

Obesity and Pregnancy

According to the U.S.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente Northwest, women who were medically obese before or during early pregnancy were more likely to require increased healthcare services.  These women are more likely to require additional prenatal fetal testing, obstetrical ultrasounds, prescription medications, and overall prenatal visits.  Obese women are also more likely to be hospitalized, have increased length of stay periods, and have an increased risk of cesarean (c-section) deliveries.

There is no question that obesity can result in various complications related to pregnancy.  But what happens when obesity or significant weight gain is not properly addressed by doctors and infants suffer complications or injuries as a result? Can obesity during pregnancy cause fetal birth injuries? Researchers say “yes”.

Obesity During Pregnancy May Cause Epilepsy

Obesity increased the risk of fetal birth injuries, but new research specifically suggests that obesity may be linked to epilepsy.  The Journal of American Medical Association recently released a report in JAMA Neurology identifying that women who are obese while pregnant are more likely to give birth to babies who have epilepsy.

Why? When a mother is overweight, her body promotes inflammation, which may put the fetus at risk for developing inflammation-related brain injuries.  The JAMA Neurology report detailed the assessment of more than 1.4 million live births.  The results indicated the following data:

  • Of the live births studied, 7,592 children were diagnosed with epilepsy.
  • There was an 11 percent increase in the risk of epilepsy among mothers who had a BMI of 25-30.
  • There was a 30 percent increase in the risk of epilepsy among mothers with a BMI of 35-40.
  • Women who are severely obese, or who had a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, were 82 percent more likely to have a child affected by epilepsy.

Researchers involved in this study suggest that further research is needed to determine an exact link between obesity and epilepsy.  Even so, they point out the significance of such findings, which certainly makes the issue of obesity during pregnancy even more concerning for the U.S.  healthcare system.

Is Epilepsy a Birth Injury? Can it be Caused by Medical Malpractice or Negligence?

Epilepsy is a condition that may be congenital or may be caused by something like a brain injury or stroke.  When an infant suffers brain damage due to improper maternal or fetal care, epilepsy may be considered the result of medical malpractice or negligence.

Healthcare providers are required to recognize risk factors and symptoms, make accurate diagnosis, and provide appropriate treatment in a timely manner.  This is most important during pregnancy, as the health of the mother is not the only factor.  When a healthcare provider fails to do any of these, there is a risk of fetal or birth injuries.

There are several complications of pregnancy that can result in seizures, including severe cases leading to a diagnosis of epilepsy.  Obesity during pregnancy is directly linked to an increase in complications, large birth weight, and numerous risk factors – many of which can result in brain damage and seizures.  Some examples of these risks include:

  • Brain Injury: May include skull fracture, vacuum extraction injury, or forceps delivery – all of which can be caused by delayed birth, large birth weight, or failure to order a c-section.
  • Maternal Infection: Maternal infections can also cause damage and result in seizures or possibly epilepsy. Group B Strep infection, Meningitis, Preeclampsia all can lead to serious fetal injuries.
  • Cerebral Palsy: Epilepsy and cerebral palsy (CP) are often diagnosed together, with epilepsy being a side effect of the brain damage causing CP. CP can be caused by medical malpractice or negligence, such as:
    • Improper monitoring of maternal or fetal vitals
    • Failure to schedule or order a c-section
    • Failure to recognize and treat maternal infections
    • Improper use of delivery tools (forceps, vacuum, etc.)
    • Failure to recognize oxygen deprivation and supply oxygen
    • Failure to recognize and treat umbilical cord problems

Identifying Medical Malpractice or Negligence

Managing issues related to obesity, pregnancy, medical malpractice, or negligence can be extremely difficult and emotionally-charged.  If you or your child have been injured due to a healthcare provider’s failure to recognize and treat risk factors or complications of pregnancy, you should be swift in exploring your legal rights.

Conditions like epilepsy and CP are long-term, often lifelong, and they generally require ongoing medical care, medications, and assistance with daily life.  When these conditions are caused by medical malpractice or negligence, you may have the option of pursuing recovery for your injuries, losses, and future care of your child.

To learn more about your rights and options, contact Birth Injury Guide today.  We provide every client with a free case review with one of our experienced birth injury attorneys.  Fill out our online form to take the first step toward the recovery and justice you deserve.

Meagan Cline

Written By Meagan Cline

Meagan Cline is a professional legal researcher and writer. She lends her expertise to the team at Birth Injury Guide to provide up-to-date and relevant content that clients can count on.