Recurrent Wernicke’s encephalopathy in pregnancy: A case report

Angela Stephens, Khilen Patel, Ashwin Rao, Paul Browne, Susanna Raley, Linda Street

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Scopus citations


    Introduction: Wernicke’s encephalopathy (WE) is an acute neurologic syndrome resulting from a deficiency in thiamine, also known as Vitamin B1. Thiamine stores can be depleted rapidly in patients with severe hyperemesis. Treatment with thiamine typically results in complete resolution of the neurological abnormalities. Case report: A 15-year-old G2P0010 at 13.2 weeks gestation presented with altered mental status and transaminitis. She had a medical termination in her previous pregnancy following an admission for a similar clinical scenario. She was initially thought to have a postoperative surgical complication due to recent cholecystectomy, but further evaluation revealed thiamine depletion. Magnetic resonance imaging confirmed the diagnosis of WE. Repletion of thiamine and folic acid resulted in rapid clinical improvement. Conclusion: WE should be considered in the differential diagnosis of pregnant patients with hyperemesis and altered mental status. A prior history of WE increases the risk of recurrence during pregnancy. Severe hyperemesis during pregnancy increases the risk of thiamine deficiency and WE. Early thiamine supplementation may reduce the risk of WE in patients with a prior clinical history or in patients with severe hyperemesis gravidarum.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)528-530
    Number of pages3
    JournalNutritional Neuroscience
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - Jul 3 2019


    • Hyperemesis gravidarum
    • Pregnancy
    • Thiamine
    • Wernicke’s encephalopathy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • Neuroscience(all)
    • Nutrition and Dietetics


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