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Childhood Epilepsy

Early-Life Seizures Prematurely Wake Up Brain Networks Tied to Autism

Antiepileptic Drug May Keep Synapses ‘Silent’ Longer So Brain Can Develop Normally, Penn Study Suggests   Early-life seizures prematurely switch on key synapses in the brain that may contribute to further neurodevelopmental delay in children with autism and other intellectual disabilities, suggests a new study from researchers at Penn Medicine published online in Cell Reports. Importantly, the study shows that an existing targeted therapy may keep those synapses “silent” after seizures to allow the brain to develop normally during a critical time in a person’s life. “Silent” synapses become active with experience, and removal of the reservoir of these synapses due to seizures results in a decreased capacity to engage these synapses in later learning.   Seizures from epilepsy earl...

Immune Response May Contribute to Pediatric Epilepsy

Irregular concentrations of T-cells in the brain contribute to the development of seizures in pediatric epilepsy, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.   The experiments suggest anti-inflammatory drugs should be considered for therapy, in addition to the anti-seizure drugs that are typically prescribed, according to Stephen D. Miller, PhD, the Judy Gugenheim Research Professor of Microbiology-Immunology and the senior author of the study.

Partnering to improve patient-neurologist dialogue about epilepsy

Digital Health Solutions, Child Neurology Foundation and Greenwich Biosciences begin work to create high-tech risk-screening tool    Experts in academia, patient advocacy and the health care industry have begun a partnership to improve communication about epilepsy between pediatricians, pediatric neurologists and the families of pediatric patients.   Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes seizures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 3.5 million Americans had active epilepsy in 2015, including 470,000 children. In a 2017 guideline, the American Academy of Neurology urged health care providers to report risks associated with the condition to caregivers of children living with epilepsy. Those risks include sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, or SUD...

Which commonly prescribed drug is more effective for infants with epilepsy?

Study to help clinicians select an initial treatment for infants with epilepsy:   Comparison of two of the most commonly prescribed drugs for infants with nonsyndromic epilepsy revealed that levetiracetam was more effective than phenobarbital, according a multicenter, observational study published in JAMA Pediatrics. After six months of single-drug treatment, 40 percent of infants who received levetiracetam met criteria for successful outcome – they did not require a second anti-epileptic drug to control their seizures and they became seizure-free within three months of starting treatment. Only 16 percent of infants treated with phenobarbital achieved the same outcome.   “This is the first study to provide evidence that may help clinicians select an initial treatment ...

Population-Based Study Helps Predict Outcomes in Status Epilepticus

Convulsive status epilepticus (CSE) in children without prior neurologic abnormalities is not associated with long-term cognitive or other neurologic deficits, according to a large new population-based study published online December 5, 2017 in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.   Previous smaller, hospital-based studies had reached similar conclusions, but independent experts told Neurology Today that the size, duration, and structure of this study, which included participants in the north London convulsive status epilepticus surveillance study cohort, allows clinicians to offer stronger reassurance to parents of children with CSE, defined as continuous or rapid sequential seizure activity for 30 minutes or more.   “This reinforces some of what we already knew, but fo...

Are there signs of CTE in the brain tissue of younger people with epilepsy?

Younger adults with difficult-to-treat epilepsy may have early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in their brain tissue, but it appears to be uncommon, according to a small, preliminary study published in the January 10, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a rare, degenerative brain disease most likely caused by repeated head trauma. People with CTE may develop symptoms like dementia, personality disorders or behavior problems. People with epilepsy can experience head trauma when they have full body seizures, also called tonic-clonic seizures, or partial or focal seizures where they lose some or all awareness of their surroundings.

Diet May Help Fight Epilepsy When Meds Fail

For children with epilepsy who don’t find relief from their seizures with medication, a tightly controlled nutrition plan might help, a pair of new studies suggests.   Called the ketogenic diet, the therapy provides a carefully balanced high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that causes the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates for fuel. This changes the way brain cells use energy and helps to reduce seizures, according to the researchers.

Non-Drug Options Provide Seizure Relief in Children

Non-pharmaceutical therapies may offer seizure relief for children with epilepsy, and slow introduction of the ketogenic diet is effective, according to two studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society, held from Dec. 1 to 5 in Washington, D.C.

Seizure Frequency Predicts Neuropsychiatric Outcomes in BECTS

Findings from a large prospective study presented at the 2017 American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting, December 1-5, in Washington, DC, suggest that total number of seizures in children with benign childhood epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes (BECTS), not age at first seizure, is predictive of neuropsychological outcomes.   Age at first seizure was not an accurate prognostic marker, predicting neither number of seizures nor observed duration of disease.

CBD oil reduced toddler’s seizures. Still, state threatened to take away child, mother says

The parents of a 20-month-old girl say Indiana child welfare authorities threatened to take the child away from them because they chose to treat her epilepsy with a legal cannabis extract.   Lelah Jerger, the child’s mother, said personnel at Riley Hospital for Children reported her to Indiana’s Child Protective Services after she and her husband decided to use cannabidiol oil, or CBD, to treat their daughter Jaelah, rather than use the medication prescribed by a Riley doctor.

First test of anti-epilepsy surgeries in children shows dramatic benefit

Brain surgery for children whose epilepsy is resistant to drug therapy can produce a 10-fold increase in the odds of being seizure-free after one year and can do it without affecting IQ, according to a new Indian study of 116 patients in The New England Journal of Medicine   Seventy-seven percent of the children were free of seizures at one year after the surgery, compared with seven percent in a control group of youngsters who received medical therapy alone while waiting for surgery. Behavior and quality of life also improved.

Interim Survey Results Demonstrate Impact on Siblings of Children Suffering from Severe Epilepsy

“In a recently conducted survey by the Dravet Syndrome Foundation, 74 percent of caregivers expressed concerns about the emotional impact on siblings of children with Dravet syndrome, and the interim results from the Sibling Voices Survey are a significant advancement in our understanding of the far-reaching implications that severe childhood epilepsies have on the lives of siblings and loved ones,” said Nicole Villas, President & Scientific Director of the Dravet Syndrome Foundation Board of Directors.  “We are optimistic that the insights gained from the Sibling Voices Survey will assist in the development of tools to help families, and we are grateful for Zogenix’s dedication to addressing the unmet needs of this patient community.”