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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Epilepsy no more a problem for them

Staff Reporter

Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

Caring and sharing: Film actor Jagadish at a get-together at the SCTIMST in the city on Saturday. –

Thiruvananthapuram: Epilepsy is not a cursed or dreaded disease anymore, one which a family might be compelled to hide from society. Today, with proper, regular treatment and some amount of care, women who are prone to epileptic seizures can lead a normal marital life and embrace motherhood too.

The 100-odd women who are part of the Kerala Registry of Epilepsy and Pregnancy (KREP) at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), and their families who had come for a get-together at SCTIMST on Saturday shed happy tears and spoke with elation about how well their children were doing.

They spoke about how the right treatment had changed their lives and how they were helped through their apprehensions and fears about their disease, their concerns about marriage and motherhood by the team of doctors and medical social workers attached to KREP.

Cine actor Jagadish, who had been a special invitee at the gathering, said that the happy and confident faces around him gave out the message that epilepsy was just an ordinary disease like any other, which needed proper management and care.

Epilepsy registry

KREP is the first of the epilepsy and pregnancy registry to be set up in the country in 1998 and it has today 1,900 women patients registered under it. There are approximately 75,000 women with epilepsy in the State and though the incidence rate of the disease is same for both men and women, women seemed to suffer more due to epilepsy and the stigmas attached to it.

The SCTIMST set up KREP when it became clear that while medicines could keep women seizure-free, they needed a lot of guidance and care when they were contemplating marriage and motherhood.

Concerns about whether women with epilepsy could bear children and whether the babies would inherit the disease or have congenital problems due to their in-utero exposure to epilepsy drugs during gestation were genuinely shared by the doctors too. Women patients are thus encouraged to enrol in the registry as soon as they get married.

Need for care

“With careful monitoring and proper management of anti-epileptic drug therapy during pregnancy, about 90 per cent of the babies born to women with epilepsy can be healthy with no malformations,” said Sanjeev V. Thomas, Professor of Neurology and leading light of KREP.

KREP has thus evolved a comprehensive strategy for managing pregnancies in epileptic women, with a core multi-disciplinary team including neurologists, gynaecologists, neonatologists and geneticists. Children born to them are also followed up carefully through the initial years. The SCTIMST now is planning to spread these specialised services from within the walls of the institution to the general community, Dr. Thomas said.

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