Elizabeth Gerard, MD: Advising Women With Epilepsy to Breastfeed
The associate professor of neurology and director of the Women With Epilepsy Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine spoke about the need for consistency in the messaging conveyed to women with epilepsy who are having children.
By: Elizabeth Gerard, MD
Published: January 21, 2020
“She has to deal with 3 care providers—the neurologist’s recommendations, the obstetrician’s recommendations, and the pediatrician’s recommendations—if we’re not all on the same page, it’s going to be hard for a woman to make a clear decision.”
Women with epilepsy have long faced the challenging decision surrounding breastfeeding. While previously, it was believed that doing so would negatively impact the health of their child, new data in recent years have suggested the opposite—a critical bit of information, considering the benefits of breastfeeding.
At the 73rd annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society (AES), December 6-10, 2019, in Baltimore, Maryland, Elizabeth Gerard, MD, associate professor of neurology and director of the Women With Epilepsy Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, presented data suggesting that despite these benefits, women with epilepsy are less likely to breastfeed their children than those without epilepsy.
Although there was a silver lining, as the rates of breastfeeding in this population appear to be on the rise despite the gap which remains, there is still a gap between the groups. This, Gerard explained, might be due to a number of factors, including patient education. She explained in an interview with NeurologyLive the importance of consistency in the messaging conveyed to women with epilepsy who are having children.