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Researchers discover new course of treatment for children with severe epileptic seizures

The findings could be lifesaving

Photo (c) SKapl - Getty Images
Epileptic seizures can come with several complications, and current treatment options aren’t effective for all patients.

Now, researchers have discovered a new course of treatment that would help children who suffer from serious epileptic seizures.

“This study has now given us robust evidence to manage children with prolonged seizures without reverting to intubation and intensive care,” said researcher Dr. Dalziel. “By controlling seizures in the emergency department we will increase the chance of these children recovering more quickly and returning back to their normal lives.”

Discovering what works

The researchers note that current seizure medications either come with serious side effects or don’t get the job done, so they wanted to develop a more effective course of treatment for children who come into the emergency room with serious epileptic seizures.

The first typical course of treatment for children with seizures is benzodiazepines followed by an anti-convulsant drug. However, this plan doesn’t work for all children, and it often leaves lingering side effects. For the study, the researchers decided to try a new anti-convulsant drug, levetiracetam, as the second dose of medication following benzodiazepines.

The study revealed that combining the drugs -- using both levetiracetam and the more popular phenytoin -- was the most successful way to stop seizures and leave kids without any scary side effects.

Used solo, each drug had between a 50 and 60 percent success rate on the study participants; however, when used together, the team found a 75 percent success rate. The researchers are confident that these two medications will greatly improve children’s outcomes should they enter the emergency room with an epileptic seizure.

“This study is going to profoundly improve treatment for children who are critically ill with epilepsy around the world,” said researcher Franz Babl.

Staying informed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that epilepsy cases are on the rise in the United States. They also note that there are around 30 different kinds of seizures, and it can often be hard to determine when someone is having one.

"Millions of Americans are impacted by epilepsy, and unfortunately, this study shows cases are on the rise," said CDC Dr. Director Brenda Fitzgerald. "Proper diagnosis is key to finding an effective treatment – and at CDC we are committed to researching, testing, and sharing strategies that will improve the lives of people with epilepsy."

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