pregnancy and parkinson's

My Pregnancy and Parkinson’s: The Correlation Between the Two

Last updated: June 2022

The Parkinson’s that afflicts this brain and body that I have started at the age of 28 when I was in the first trimester of my first pregnancy. This is when the first symptom appeared.

I noticed something seriously wrong with my left leg. It seemed to have a mind of its own. It was no longer behaving as it once did. It began to involuntarily jerk ... almost like a spasmodic muscle reaction. An involuntary jig.

I had just got married, moved to a new city, started a new teaching job, and had just found out I was pregnant. Understandably, I was processing a lot of mental and physical changes. So, I brushed this random Riverdance sensation to the back of my mind. I assumed it would go away and sort itself out.

The brain scan

But, as the pregnancy progressed and I got bigger and bigger, I began to limp. However, once again, I attributed this to the pregnancy. I told myself that penguin waddling is a normal part of pregnancy because of the extra weight and stress your body is under. So, in my typical stubbornly stoic nature, I plodded and waddled on. Slowly, but surely.

Then, about 9 months after my daughter was born, and after much poking and prodding, it came to fruition that I was in fact not mad or delusional ... but that something had indeed physically malfunctioned in my brain circuitry.

The DaTscan confirmed the (oh so wise) neurologist’s suspicions that I had Parkinson’s disease, or as the hospital letter stated, "I had absent putamen in the left side of the brain and reduced putamen uptake on the right side of the brain."

A correlation

I accept that I will never truly know whether my pregnancy and Parkinson’s diagnosis are linked. It was a decade ago and there is no firm scientific test that can prove that such a link exists.

But my gut instinct tells me that there is a connection between the two life events. Before I got pregnant, I was completely symptom-free. Then, crash, wallop, bang! As soon as I got pregnant, things started to go downhill. Fast.

I believe that pregnancy proved to be a catalyst for the onset of this Parkinson’s disease. Almost as if, the Parkinson’s disease lay dormant in my body ... waiting, biding its time ... waiting for the perfect storm to happen before it, voila! ... appeared. Now, admittedly this is purely speculative and anecdotal conjecture on my part.

Flick the switch

I believe that there is a high probability that I would have got Parkinson’s eventually, somewhere in the timeline of my life. That some life or body change or trauma would have caused it to rise to the surface. It just so happens that it was the pregnancy that flicked the Parkinson's switch, at the age of 28.

Maybe if I had gotten pregnant at age 32, then that would have been the first onset of Parkinson’s symptoms. Truthfully, I will never know. I do not have a time-traveling machine or crystal ball or any comparative magical device that allows me to control, manipulate, or revisit the past.

My own experience

But, in my mindless consumption of information on the (big bad) world wide web, I have stumbled upon a handful of women who also state that their Parkinson’s symptoms appeared around the same time that they were pregnant.

Admittedly, I have only read this a handful of times, but gives me reassurance that I am not alone. I am convinced that for some people pregnancy can flick the Parkinson's switch on ... but that is only my amateur, unscientific experience, backed by my own experience.

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