Epilepsy & Neurologic Disorders

Expert reports about Epilepsy & Neurologic Disorders


INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE WERNICKE ENCEPHALOPATHY DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

                                                                                                                                                

What is Wernicke encephalopathy during pregnancy?

Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) is a neurological condition resulting from a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1). It can be triggered by the administration of intravenous fluids with glucose (sugar) before the person is given supplemental thiamine. Potentially fatal if not recognized and treated early, WE is characterized by three neurological abnormalities, all of which occur in most cases: One is weakness of the muscles that move the eyes (ophthalmoparesis) with the rapid, repetitive movement of the eyes back and forth (nystagmus). Another abnormality is the lack of full control of voluntary muscles and coordinated body movements (ataxia), and the third abnormality is confusion. Outside of pregnancy, WE typically strikes alcoholics, but in pregnancy, it can develop as a complication of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a condition that features severe nausea and vomiting, with weight loss and liver problems. This happens due to the vomiting, together with the increased need for thiamine that develops in pregnancy.


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