Elizabeth Gerard, MD: Explaining the Breastfeeding Gap In Epilepsy


The associate professor of neurology and director of the Women With Epilepsy Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine detailed the ongoing questions about assessing the gaps in breastfeeding between women with, and without, epilepsy.

“What we do know is how much benefit there is to breastfeeding. We shouldn’t take what we don’t know about a drug and weigh that too heavily against what we do know about those benefits.”

In a conversation with NeurologyLive, Elizabeth Gerard, MD, associate professor of neurology, and director, Women With Epilepsy Program, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, spoke about the findings of the MONEAD study. The data suggest that while rates of breastfeeding among women with epilepsy are on the rise, these rates are still 15% lower than the general population.

Gerard noted that there are a number of factors that may contribute to this, among them being incongruous patient education from providers, misinformation, and fear of antiepileptic drug exposure. Although this fear, while reasonable, should not differ women from deciding to breastfeed, she explained.

She detailed the ongoing questions in the field about assessing new antiepileptic drugs in pregnancy, and what prescription trends tell us about the ongoing practices for pregnant women, and what influences the decision to choose one therapy over another during pregnancy.

For more coverage of AES 2019, click here.


Gerard E, Pennell P. Breastfeeding in women with epilepsy in the MONEAD study. Presented at: American Epilepsy Society 2019 Meeting; December 7—10; Baltimore, Maryland. Abstract 1.250.

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