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Epilepsy News

News stories displayed on this website were gathered from a variety of news sources and databases. They do not necessarily represent the position or opinions of the staff and leadership of the J. Kiffin Penry Epilepsy Education Programs.

Seizure status after surgery key to quality of life (Reuters Health E-Line, 6/4/2007)
People with temporal lobe epilepsy experience stable or improved quality of life after successful surgery to control their seizures, even if they develop some degree of memory decline, a new study shows. But if the surgery doesn't eradicate seizures and memory loss develop, patient experience s a decline in health-related quality of life, Dr. John T. Langfitt of the University of Rochester in New York and colleagues report. It's possible that people have an easier time compensating for memory loss, for example by keeping lists, than coping with the handicapping effects of seizures, Langfitt and his colleagues suggest in their report, published in the June 5th issue of Neurology. "Memory problems are also less likely than seizures to invite social stigma that can reduce role functioning," they add. The study included 138 patients with temporal lobe epilepsy with did not respond well to drug treatments. Langfitt and his team followed the patients who underwent surgery to the temporal lobe, the area of the brain where the seizures originated. Eighty-two percent became seizure-free and remained so 2 to 5 years after the surgery and 36 percent experienced some degree of memory loss. Among the 25 patients (18 percent) who continued to have seizures, 11 (8 percent of the total) also suffered from memory loss. The other 14 patients (10 percent) remained stable and did not develop memory loss.

Drug study on kids won't need consent: Seizure medications can be given without telling parents (USA Today, 5/24/2007)
Children in 11 major cities who suffer life-threatening seizures will, for the first time, be enrolled in a drug study without their parents' consent, the National Institutes of Health announced Wednesday.The trial, which will test how two well-established drugs work in children who have seizures that last for more than 30 minutes, is being conducted under a controversial federal rule that allows researchers to test human subjects in an emergency without consent. The condition, status epilepticus, affects 50,000 to 60,000 children and adults in the USA each year. Four to eight children per every 1,000 will experience status epilepticus by age 15. "Medication must be administered within five minutes of arrival in the emergency department," says James Chamberlain, emergency medicine chief at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., one of the principal investigators leading the study. "We don't have time to talk to the parents about the study during the seizure episode." The trial is expected to see how 240 children respond to two anti-seizure drugs, diazepam and lorazepam. A computer will randomly select which drug they are given.

The art of advocacy: If the UF student's efforts succeed, doctors would have to OK medication switches. (Florida Times-Union, 4/15/2007)
While many of her classmates spent spring break partying on a sunny beach, University of Florida sophomore Christa Whittle was speaking up for epilepsy patients at the Capitol. The 20-year-old Jacksonville native and graduate of Stanton College Preparatory School never knew she had epilepsy, until her first episode during her freshman year in college. Since speaking to legislators during her spring break trip to Tallahassee in March, the bill she was pushing to prevent pharmacists from substituting antiepileptic drugs for generics without a doctor's consent sailed through two committees unanimously. "Brand-name drugs work for her," her mother Debbie said. "The generics might not. ... That's a scary situation for us."

New Epilepsy Drug Helps Reduce Seizure Frequency (HealthDay News, 4/10/2007)
An epilepsy drug with a new method of action is safe and effective, according to a new study. Retigabine works by opening potassium channels and is being developed to treat people with partial-onset seizures whose seizures are not fully controlled by other drugs. The finding, published in the April 10 issue of the journal Neurology, may be good news for people with epilepsy who don't respond well to current available medications, said study author Dr. Roger J. Porter, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

New drug shows promise for epilepsy (United Press International (UPI), 4/6/2007)
German researchers say a new drug shows promise for treating epileptic seizures and may prove beneficial for bi-polar disorder and neuropathic pain. The study, which appears in the journal Epilepsia, shows that Eslicarbazepine (ESL) may be useful as a treatment for patients whose epilepsy symptoms aren't controlled by existing medications. A drug trial conducted in five European countries found that ESL fully eliminated seizures in 24 percent of test patients.

Traffic fatalities: Epilepsy's role hard to prove in crashes (Columbus Dispatch, 4/6/2007)
Dr. J. Layne Moore, an associate professor of clinical neurology who runs Ohio State University's comprehensive epilepsy program, said the only physical evidence of seizures typically is incontinence or tongue-biting. Either of those conditions also could occur in a fatal car crash. "Unless you've got a witness to the seizure, I wouldn't think you can tell anything from the body," he said.

Researchers try to predict epilepsy (Associated Press, 4/5/2007)
Survivors of traumatic brain injuries — from car-crash victims to soldiers wounded in Iraq — face an extra hurdle as they recover: Thousands of them will develop epilepsy months or years later. The risk is especially high for certain kinds of war injuries. Studies of Vietnam veterans suggest up to 50 percent, says Dr. Nancy Temkin of the University of Washington. Among the efforts: pilot studies to see if the newer seizure-treating drugs Topamax or Keppra might actually prevent epilepsy if they‘re taken immediately after a serious brain injury.

Epilepsy drug effective as single therapy (United Press International, 2/8/2007)
Scottish scientists say newly diagnosed epilepsy patients experience few, if any, seizures while taking the drug levetiracetam as a single therapy. The discovery by researchers at the Western Infirmary Epilepsy Unit in Glasgow, Scotland, gives hope to epilepsy patients who don't respond to, or can't tolerate, existing treatments. For the double-blind study, researchers assigned nearly 600 adults who had at least two seizures during the previous year to the drug levetiracetam or to controlled-release carbamazepine, a common epilepsy treatment. While levetiracetam is used as an add-on therapy, the study marked the first time its effectiveness as a single therapy has been clinically tested. The research appears in the journal Neurology.

Patients successful at predicting seizures (United Press International (UPI) , 1/23/2007)
Some patients with epilepsy can reliably predict when they are likely to have a seizure, says a study by the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "Many patients report they can identify periods of increased risk for seizure, but this has not been prospectively tested before," says study author Dr. Sheryl Haut of the Montefiore Medical Center. The study, published in the journal Neurology, found the patients correctly predicted about 32 percent of their seizures and 83 percent of their seizure-free days. Seizures were twice as likely to happen in the 24 hours following a positive prediction, says Haut.

Epilepsy's startling symptoms: Understanding what to do when a seizure occurs can keep everyone calm. (USA Weekend, 1/14/2007)
Epileptic is the medical term used to denote people who have any one of a number of disorders characterized by seizures. But not everyone who has seizures has epilepsy, because other conditions can result in seizures. For those diagnosed with epilepsy, someone around you should know you have the medical condition. That way, in the event of a seizure, people can respond calmly. It's not nearly as frightening when people know about the disorder. For more information, log on to epilepsy.com.

Study suggests compound can treat epilepsy (UPI, 10/16/2006)
A new study suggests that a sweet-tasting compound called 2DG has great potential as a treatment for epilepsy. 2DG (2-deoxy-glucose) has long been used in radio labeling, medical scanning and cancer imaging studies in humans. But now researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found the substance also blocks the onset of epileptic seizures in laboratory rats. "We pumped the rats full (of 2DG) and still saw no side effects," said senior author Avtar Roopra, an assistant professor of neurology. "I see 2DG as an epilepsy management treatment much like insulin is used to treat diabetes." Many of the consequences of seizures observed in humans have also been observed in rats, making them a good model to study. Despite the promise of 2DG, Roopra estimates that it will be five years before the compound is available for human use. It needs to be subjected to toxicity studies and clinical trials before it can receive FDA approval and be made available to the public.

My first-person account of living with epilepsy (North County Times, 10/3/2006)
I was introduced to the world of epilepsy as a months-old infant when I sustained a severe head injury. That required extensive treatment in the hospital. (Of course, I have no direct knowledge of this; I was told the full story much later.) As a child, I don't remember having any seizures, but do remember taking various anti-seizure drugs, mainly Dilantin and phenobarbital. I'd get checkups from a neurologist, which was fine, except for having my brainwaves measured. This required numerous electrodes to be attached to my scalp, a very uncomfortable process. After years of no seizures, I was taken off medication in my teens, and forgot all about it. Until late 2001, when I started having seizures again. That's what brought me back to the hospital, back to a neurologist, and medication that has kept my symptoms under control.

U.S. says Glaxo drug may be linked to birth defect (Reuters, 9/29/2006)
Taking GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Lamictal epilepsy drug during the first three months of pregnancy may increase the chances of having a baby with a cleft lip or palate, U.S. regulators warned on Friday. Women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should not stop taking Lamictal without talking to a doctor, the FDA said. A spokesman for Glaxo in London said the safety and efficacy profile of Lamictal was well established but, as with all medicines, doctors had to make decisions about prescribing based on the risk/benefit profile of individual patients. Last week the drug was approved by the FDA to treat one of the most serious forms of epilepsy, known as "grand mal" seizures, in children aged 2 and older as well as for adults.

U.S. approves Glaxo's seizure drug for broader use (Reuters, 9/25/2006)
GlaxoSmithKline Plc said on Monday that U.S. regulators have approved wider use of its seizure drug, Lamictal.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Lamictal for the treatment of one of the most serious forms of epilepsy, known as "grand mal" seizures, as an add-on therapy for children aged 2 and older as well as for adults. Lamictal is already approved to treat partial seizures and as a maintenance therapy for adults with bipolar 1 disorder, or manic depression.

Health Tip: Understanding Epilepsy (HealthDay News, 9/8/2006)
Epilepsy is a neurologic condition characterized by seizures -- caused by changes in the way brain cells send electrical signals to each other. The National Epilepsy Foundation says epilepsy can be triggered by conditions that affect the brain, such as stroke or a tumor, or the disease can be inherited. People with epilepsy are usually allowed to drive cars -- depending on state laws -- as long as their seizures are controlled with medication. Unless seizures are particularly severe and frequent, most people with epilepsy can live independently. Anti-convulsant drugs can prevent or minimize seizures in most people. Some patients with epilepsy that doesn't respond to medication may require surgery.

Epilepsy medication proving ineffective over time; Patients showing tolerance to traditional drugs (Epilepsia Press Release, 9/6/2006)
A new critical review by Dr. Wolfgang Loscher and Dr. Dieter Schmidt shows that repeated administration of antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy has diminishing results in preventing seizures in epileptic patients. In clinical trials, the number of patients remaining seizure-free declines over time with prolonged treatment. This review explores how acquired tolerance, the adaptive response of the body to foreign substances, as opposed to innate tolerance (which occurs in patients naturally resistant to certain medications) is responsible for this diminishing effect.

Epilepsy surgery can lead to memory loss (Reuters Health, 9/6/2006)
Severe epilepsy that can't be controlled with anti-seizure medication may require a brain operation, but in such cases there's apparently a trade-off. Surgery, especially on the left temporal lobe, can results in long-term loss of verbal memory, Dutch researchers report. Dr. Willem C. J. Alpherts, from the Epilepsy Institute of the Netherlands, in Heemstede, and his associates evaluated long-term outcomes for 85 patients who had undergone brain surgery for epilepsy. After repeated evaluation with a verbal test, the team found that patients operated on the left side exhibited a decline in acquisition, learning and in consolidation of verbal memories compared with those treated on the right side. This decline appears to have leveled off after two years, the researchers report in the medical journal Neurology

Taro Pharma gets approval for epilepsy drug (Associated Press, 9/6/2006)
Drug maker Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration approved its generic versions of an epilepsy treatment and injectable products. The company said the agency approved 100 milligram capsules of phenytoin sodium, the active ingredient of Pfizer Inc.'s Dilantin Kapseals. Citing industry sources, Taro estimated the U.S. extended-release phenytoin capsule market at $191 million per year.

Babies Born in Poor Condition at Risk for Epilepsy (Reuters News, 5/17/2006)
Newborns with low Apgar scores -- indicating that they have serious physical difficulties -- are more likely to develop epilepsy during childhood and early adulthood than those with higher scores, a Danish study shows. Apgar scoring is a method of quickly checking newborns, based on their heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, response to a stimulus, and color. The maximum score is 10, and the assessment is made at 1 minute and 5 minutes after babies are born. The new findings suggest that "prenatal or perinatal factors play a larger role in the (cause) of epilepsy than has previously been recognized," say Dr. Yuelian Sun, from the University of Aarhus, and associates.

Lamotrigine Improves Depressed Mood in Women With Epilepsy: Presented at ACOG (Doctor’s Guide (docguide.com), 5/17/2006)
Depressed mood in patients with epilepsy can be improved with addition of lamotrigine to background anticonvulsant medication, according to results of a study presented at the 54th Annual Clinical Meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Depressive complaints are prevalent in up to 55% of people with epilepsy across all age groups, with almost 30% meeting criteria for major depressive disorder. In the study, lamotrigine was added to a stable antiepileptic drug regimen in an adjunctive phase and became a single agent in a monotherapy phase. Background antiepileptic drugs were phenytoin, carbamazepine, valproic acid, oxcarbazepine and topiramate.

An Ambassador for Epilepsy (Indianapolis Star, 5/16/2006)
Eighth-grader Jessica Moran to walks competitively, lifts weights, maintains a B average, serves on the Student Council and is a member of the school's Art Club, and doesn't resist letting people know she has epilepsy. In fact, Jessica, 14, speaks out about the disease and the treatments that could help prevent or lessen her seizures. For the second year in a row, the Epilepsy Foundation selected Jessica to be the Indiana representative to travel to Washington, D.C., to speak to lawmakers about epilepsy. Jessica spoke with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind.; and an aide to Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind. The "Kids Speak Up!" program annually tries to select a child ambassador between the ages of 7 and 16 from each state to meet with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill. There, the children urge members of Congress to provide funding for better access to care, improved public education and more research toward a cure for epilepsy. Jessica also is developing into a patient ambassador for the maker of an implanted device that she uses in a treatment involving the longest nerve to her brain.

Epilepsy benefit will honor activist (Chicago Sun-Times, 4/18/2006)
Among big-name speakers for dinners benefiting Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy have been Barack Obama, Gov. Blagojevich and both Clintons, Hillary and Bill. So why is Susan Axelrod headlining this year's event Friday at the Museum of Science and Industry? Because without her, CURE wouldn't exist. With Axelrod at the helm, CURE has raised $5 million to fund research and other initiatives aimed at a cure. It has granted more than 40 research awards and lobbied Congress and the National Institutes of Health every year. Axelrod cofounded the nonprofit group in 1998 and is its president. She became an epilepsy activist because her daughter, Lauren, now 24, has had the disease since infancy.

Multiple Factors Increase Childhood Epilepsy Risk (Reuters Health, 4/17/2006)
A variety of prenatal and neonatal factors contribute to the subsequent development of childhood epilepsy, Canadian researchers report in the April issue of Pediatrics. However, events during labor and delivery do not appear to be associated with an increased risk. Among more than 124,000 live births, the overall childhood epilepsy rate was 63 cases per 100,000 person-years, the authors report. A number of prenatal and neonatal factors were associated with the risk of childhood epilepsy, the results indicate, and the highest relative risks were associated with eclampsia and neonatal seizures.

Epilepsy Kids Speak Up (Voice of America, 4/13/2006)
The US government spends billions of dollars each year on medical research into dozens of diseases. About $8 million of that funding has been allocated to epilepsy, a chronic brain disease that causes sometimes-paralyzing seizures. Hannah Booth,14, was diagnosed with epilepsy five years ago. She says because she is personally concerned about the issue, she came all the way across the country, from Los Angeles to Washington to talk with members of Congress. "I wanted them to know that epilepsy is hard to deal with," she says. "We need the money they are cutting because… it's not that much to them, but it's a lot to us." Hannah and her parents were among several hundred families that participated in a lobbying effort last month, hoping to keep funding for epilepsy research in the federal budget. Eric Hargis, President of the Epilepsy Foundation, says the young people in his group's Kids Speak Up program plan to keep speaking up. "What's great about this program is that it's on-going," he says. "Certainly, the pivotal point is the visit to Capitol Hill, but you know, all politics are local. So, when these families get back to their districts, they've made the commitment to stay in touch, to visit the Congress member's home office, make sure that the importance of this to the epilepsy community is front and center with our elected officials." In addition to the political goal, Eric Hargis says this campaign has a broader objective: educating people about epilepsy.

'Brain pacemaker' helps children with epilepsy (The Salt Lake Tribune, 3/21/2006)
Jason Rowland had suffered from violent epileptic seizures since he was an infant, landing him in an emergency room dozens of times. But the 14-year-old Murray boy has had an 18-month reprieve from the attacks after being implanted with a device called Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy, often referred to as a pacemaker for the brain. Doctors use it to treat epilepsy or chronic, recurrent depression. Physicians at Primary Children's Medical Center have helped Jason and other epileptic patients since 1999 with the technology.

Managing a misfiring brain; Yoga offers way to cope with epileptic seizures (Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 3/20/2006)
Ever since Mary Smith was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was a senior at Santa Clara University, she has experienced the full range of disturbances that misfiring brain cells can cause, from odd sensations and emotions to occasional convulsions. One-third of the 2 million Americans with epilepsy live with the reality that neither surgery nor medication can eliminate their seizures. The kinds of seizures they have vary widely. While a diagnosis of epilepsy may seem like a prescription for stress, Ms. Smith has found a way to take control. Yoga makes her feel calmed and grounded, she said.

Teva gets added Topamax tentative FDA OK (Associated Press Newswires, 3/6/2006)
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said Monday that the Food and Drug Administration gave tentative approval for another strength of a generic version of Topamax, an anti-convulsant made by Johnson & Johnson unit Ortho McNeil. The approval covers a 50 milligram tablet of topiramate, the active ingredient of Topamax. A tentative approval does not become final until patent issues are resolved. Teva also has tentative approvals for 25 milligram, 100 milligram and 200 milligram strength tablets of the drug. Teva said it expects final approval after Topamax patents expire in September 2008.

Most Pregnant Women With Epilepsy Don't Have Increased Seizure Risk (Reuters Health, 2/28/2006)
Most women with epilepsy who continue to take anti-epileptic drugs go through pregnancy free of seizure, a group of Swedish researchers report. Nearly 60% receiving treatment did not have a seizure during pregnancy, co-author Dr. Torbjorn Tomson, from the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, told Reuters Health. "These are fairly reassuring results because many epileptic women fear that they will have more episodes when they become pregnant." So far, few studies have assessed the potential changes in seizure frequency during pregnancy, and early reports have often been retrospective in design or included a small a population. Dr. Tomson and his team observed the frequency of seizure episodes in 1956 pregnancies among 1882 women, all of whom were on anti-epileptic monotherapy or polytherapy. The women were part of the EURAP study -- a prospective international antiepileptic drug and pregnancy registry, whose primary objective is to compare the teratogenic potential of different anti epileptic drugs. "These particular findings do not assess this comparison between different medications -- this takes a much longer time to evaluate and is ongoing," said Dr. Tomson.

Epilepsy No Reason to Be Sidelined from Olympics, Expert Says (University of California, San Francisco Web Site, 2/23/2006)
Chanda Gunn, goalie for the American women’s hockey team at the Winter Olympics in Torino, has won a string of awards and accolades anyone would be proud of. But many people, including the media, have singled out her achievement because she also has epilepsy. To find out how rare it is for those with epilepsy to be able to achieve such physical feats, UCSF Today interviewed Nicholas Barbaro, a professor of neurological surgery and principal investigator in UCSF’s Epilepsy Research Program.

Birth defect risk fairly low with epilepsy drugs (Reuters Health E-Line, 2/21/2006)
Among infants exposed to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in pregnancy, almost 96 percent are born free of major congenital malformations, according to a report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. However, there are differences between AEDs, the study indicates. The highest rates of major congenital malformations were associated with valproate (6.2 percent) and topiramate (7.1 percent). No major congenital malformations were observed with single-drug treatment with levetiracetam, ethosuximide, clonazepam, vigabatrin, oxcarbazepine, or piracetam. Combinations containing valproate were associated with higher rates of major congenital malformations than were combinations without valproate, the researchers note. The types malformations associated with single-drug therapy with carbamazepine, valproate or phenytoin treatment were similar to those previously reported.

MRI Offers New Hope for Severe Epilepsy Sufferers (AXcess News, 2/21/2006)
As Epilepsy Awareness Month approaches, researchers have found a way to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect minute brain lesions in people with severe epilepsy, making surgical treatment potentially available to many more patients. The study, supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and led by Dr. Andrea Bernasconi at McGill University, used new automated techniques for improving the detection of brain lesions that had been overlooked by conventional radiological inspection. "The advanced methods we propose could reduce the complexity and cost of pre-surgical evaluation, and improve our understanding of the cause of epilepsy," said Dr. Bernasconi, whose findings were published in the January issue of Epilepsia.

Athletes compete despite epilepsy (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/15/2006)
Many people live successfully with epilepsy, including Alan Faneca, the All-Pro guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Chanda Gunn, goaltender for the U.S. women's hockey team competing at the Olympic Games. Mr. Faneca, who cooperates with the Epilepsy Foundation in raising awareness of the disorder, was diagnosed with petit mal seizures as a teenager. The seizures are controlled by medication, and he said doctors did not discourage him from continuing with football. But epilepsy nearly derailed Ms. Gunn's promising hockey career.

Epilepsy jokes stir up anger (USA Today, 2/12/2006)
Are seizures funny? Joy Bardwell doesn't think so. The Daytona Beach, Fla., woman has epilepsy — repeated seizures. So does her 3-year-old daughter. So when a recent Two and a Half Men episode on CBS featured womanizer Charlie (played by Charlie Sheen) faking epilepsy and describing himself as "damaged goods" whose wedding was canceled because he was "flopping around on the altar like an epileptic trout," Bardwell wasn't laughing. "To hear someone on TV refer to my daughter as 'damaged goods' just broke my heart," Bardwell says. She was among people with epilepsy and their families who complained to CBS. (In a statement, CBS said it did not intend "to demean or make fun of" people with epilepsy and noted that the Men characters "often exhibit ... immature behavior.") Epilepsy advocates also protested the 2005 movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose (in which a woman with probable seizures is thought possessed by demons) and the 2003 movie Kangaroo Jack (which contains crude mimicking of "epileptic" behavior).

Epilepsy can't stop U.S. Olympic goalie (CNN.com, 2/7/2006)
Chanda Gunn's goal was to be in the goal crease for the U.S. Olympic women's hockey team, and she was not about to let epilepsy shut her out. And she didn't. Gunn, 25, is the starting goaltender for the hockey squad that is expected to make a run for Olympic gold beginning this weekend. Gunn was 9 when her epilepsy was diagnosed. "I was a swimmer," Gunn recalled. That meant early-morning and all-weekend-long workouts at the neighborhood swim club in Huntington Beach, California. That came to a halt when her coaches and her parents noticed that she was having what she calls spells. Her pediatrician immediately called in the neurologists. In the emergency room, her brain waves were measured using an electro-encephalogram, commonly known as an EEG. Then she was whisked off for blood tests and more brain scans. At the end of the day, the neurologist announced that Chanda had juvenile absence epilepsy, a relatively common form of childhood epilepsy in which the child has only a few seizures a day. These seizures normally can be controlled with medications.

Neurosurgeon to Perform Epilepsy Surgery During Live Internet Broadcast (OR-Live.com Press Release, 2/7/2006)
Temporal lobectomy, a surgical procedure that involves removing parts of the temporal lobe that cause seizures, is offering hope to epilepsy patients who have not been responsive to medical therapy. Neurosurgeon Steven Glazier, M.D. will perform a temporal lobectomy during a live internet broadcast on OR-Live.com.The webcast is available for viewing by the general public as well as medical professionals.On Wednesday March 1 at 5 p.m. neurosurgeon Steven Glazier, M.D. will perform a temporal lobectomy during a live Internet broadcast. The surgery removes a small part of the temporal lobe, part of the brain that extends from the temples to just past the ears.

Epilepsy linked with type 1 diabetes risk (Reuters Health, 1/25/2006)
Young adults with generalized epilepsy of unknown origin have a four-fold excess risk of having type 1 diabetes, according to findings published in the Annals of Neurology. Generalized epilepsies of unknown origin, also referred to as "idiopathic" epilepsies, represent about 30 percent of all patients with epilepsy, report Dr. Dougall McCorry, from the Walton Center for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Liverpool, UK, and colleagues. "Both idiopathic generalized epilepsies and type 1 diabetes mellitus represent serious worldwide problems, because of related medical and social management costs," they note. Clinical experience suggests that both conditions occur in individuals more frequently than might be expected by chance.

More About Epilepsy (The Charlotte Observer, 1/13/2006)
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that makes people susceptible to seizures. A seizure is a change in sensation, awareness or behavior brought about by a brief electrical disturbance in the brain. Seizures vary from a momentary disruption of the senses, to short periods of unconsciousness or staring spells, to convulsions. Some people have one type of seizure; others have more than one type.Doctors treat epilepsy primarily with seizure-preventing medicines. Although seizure medications are not a cure, they control seizures in the majority of people with epilepsy.

Goalie's passion matched by her grit (Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, 1/9/2006)
One shot became one goal, and Chanda Gunn resolved to end it right there. At the 2005 world championships, the U.S. goaltender stood up to Team Canada in the title-game shootout and decided she would control the outcome to this chapter in her life...The native Californian has long been adept at confronting tough times and transforming them into something amazing. After refusing to allow epilepsy to keep her out of the nets, Gunn has reached the pinnacle of her sport, earning a spot on the U.S. women's Olympic hockey team that will compete in Turin, Italy. "This is something I've worked toward since I began playing hockey," said Gunn, 25, who was named the tournament's top goalie as the United States won its first world title last spring...She also speaks to others afflicted with epilepsy, because she wants them to know that hopes and dreams do survive. Gunn had her first seizure when she was 9. Doctors managed her temporal lobe epilepsy with medication, and soon she was fighting with brother Jacob over who got to play in goal...With new goals in mind, Gunn moved from boys and girls youth teams to the University of Wisconsin in 1999. She did not tell her coaches about her epilepsy. It flared up, and she only played seven games….Gunn withdrew from school in December and could not skate for three months. She was heartbroken when she lost her scholarship, though she said she understands why. With adjusted combinations of medication, rest and nutrition, Gunn's seizures diminished, and she walked on at Northeastern. There, she became a star.

Parents' epilepsy work part of helping daughter (Chicago Tribune, 1/6/2006)
Carly Richards of Westmont is like any 12-year-old, except that she was diagnosed with epilepsy at 20 months old. Carly's parents are like any other parents, except it's taken them a lifetime to educate people about their daughter's disease. Randy and Kelly Richards are involved with the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago to raise awareness for epilepsy. They participate in walks, seminars, support groups and educational events and even visit Carly's classmates to share her story with them. To reward their efforts and community service, the Epilepsy Foundation recently presented Kelly and Randy Richards with an Epilepsy Awareness Award at the "Epilepsy and the Blues" event at the House of Blues.

Less Depression After Epilepsy Surgery: Biggest Drop Seen in Patients Free of Seizures After Surgery (WebMD Medical News, 12/12/2005)
Depression and anxiety become less common among epilepsy patients after brain surgery, new research shows. "Epilepsy surgery that controls seizures also appears to have antidepressant and antianxiety effects for the majority of patients," writes Orrin Devinsky, MD, and colleagues. They recommend telling candidates for epilepsy surgery about the possible psychiatric risks and benefits of the operation. Devinsky is a professor of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry at the New York University Medical Center. The study appears in Neurology.

Epilepsy Surgery Eases Depression, Anxiety: Study (HealthDay News, 12/12/2005)
Epilepsy surgery can significantly improve the depression and anxiety that are common among people whose epilepsy can't be controlled by medication, a new study finds. The study of 360 people at seven epilepsy centers in the United States found that rates of anxiety and depression disorders declined more than 50 percent after up to two years following epilepsy surgery. Patients who were seizure-free after surgery were most likely to no longer experience anxiety and depression. Epilepsy surgery is usually performed only on patients whose seizures can't be adequately controlled by drugs. The majority of the patients in this study had surgery on the temporal lobe of their brain. The study volunteers were evaluated before surgery, and at three months, one year and two years after their surgery. Prior to surgery, 22 percent of the patients were depressed, compared to 9 percent two years after the surgery, while 18 percent had anxiety disorders before the surgery, compared to 10 percent after surgery. Among patients who had no seizures following surgery, 8 percent were depressed and 8 percent had anxiety disorders. Among patients who still had seizures after surgery, 18 percent were depressed and 15 percent had anxiety disorders, the researchers said. It isn't clear why epilepsy surgery can improve depression and anxiety.

Intractable Pediatric Epilepsy Responds to Ketogenic/Atkins Diet (Medscape Medical News, 12/7/2005)
(Washington) — A diet that combines the principles of the Atkins diet and the ketogenic diet used to treat pediatric seizure disorders has benefits similar to the conventional ketogenic diet, according to investigators who presented their findings here at the 59th annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society. The modified diet is easier for parents to administer than the ketogenic diet, according to the investigators. Also, because the modified diet does not have the fluid or calorie restrictions that typically accompany Atkins-like diets that are designed to induce weight loss, children do not lose weight on the diet.

AES: Atkins Diet Helped Control Seizures in Children (MedPage Today , 12/5/2005)
Children with epilepsy who followed a modified version of the Atkins diet had a significant reduction in the frequency of their seizures, a small study found. Thirteen of 16 patients showed at least a 50% drop in their seizure frequency six months after starting the Atkins' diet, with seven patients reporting a greater than 90% reduction, including four patients who became seizure-free, Johns Hopkins investigators reported today at the American Epilepsy Society meeting here. The new findings suggest that the Atkins diet may be a more viable and user-friendly alternative to the strict ketogenic diet, said Eric Kossoff, M.D., who presented the results, and colleagues.

Ketogenic Diet Prevents Seizures By Enhancing Brain Energy Production, Increasing Neuron Stability (Emory University Health Sciences Center, 11/15/2005)
Although the high-fat, calorie-restricted ketogenic diet (KD) has long been used to prevent childhood epileptic seizures that are unresponsive to drugs, physicians have not really understood exactly why the diet works. New studies by a research team at Emory University School of Medicine show that the diet alters genes involved in energy metabolism in the brain, which in turn helps stabilize the function of neurons exposed to the challenges of epileptic seizures. This knowledge could help scientists identify specific molecular or genetic targets and lead to more effective drug treatments for epilepsy and brain damage. The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C. by Kristopher Bough, PhD, a postdoctoral student in the laboratory of Emory pharmacology professor Raymond Dingledine, PhD. "These findings support our hypothesis that a dietary regimen can dramatically affect the expression of genes and the function of neurons within the brain, which enhances the ability of these neurons to withstand the metabolic challenges of epileptic seizures," Dr. Dingledine said.

The Mind's Cartographer; Researchers have given us an atlas of the brain. Molecular biologist Julie Simpson is drawing us a street map. (Forbes, 11/14/2005)
Neuroscientists have labored to produce relatively crude maps of human brain regions, which can locate the origins of particular behaviors in swaths of thousands of neurons. Molecular biologist Julie Simpson is drawing a street map. While there are maybe a dozen labs in the world mapping the neural circuitry of fruit flies, some of which have chosen to focus on one area of brain function such as olfaction or fear response, Simpson has ambitiously chosen to chart motor control, which encompasses a wide range of behaviors and poses many unanswered questions. With detailed knowledge of the brain's byways, neuroscientists will be able to understand how and where information is stored and thus pursue targeted treatments for epilepsy, paralysis, depression and attention deficit disorder. Of particular interest to Simpson is the seizure gene because, by locating seizure-inducing cells, she might be able to point toward which types of neurons cause epilepsy in humans. Epilepsy is triggered in various parts of the brain, yet experts admit they're at a loss to pinpoint which zones are more influential. "If you overactivate the whole brain you'll get seizures," Simpson explains. "But can you do that to just a few neurons and trigger the same thing?" Says W. Allen Hauser, professor of neurology at Columbia University: "Anything that would give you clues to things that would turn off seizures readily could be applicable for a lot of things. If you're able to turn off neuron circuits specifically for seizure, then maybe you can for depression or ADHD." -Amanda Schupak

iVillage Health Poll Uncovers Immediate Need for Improved Epilepsy Education (epilepsy.com, 11/9/2005)
iVillage, the number one women's community online in the United States, announced today the results of its first ever health poll of women with epilepsy that reveals women are not receiving enough information about epilepsy, and the significant impact it has on pregnancy, sexual function, weight, menopause and bone health, all topics rated as being of high concern. The online survey, completed by 440 females age 18 or over self-reported as taking anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) to treat epilepsy, also showed that these women are not receiving enough education on how their AEDs relate to these important female health issues throughout life. Furthermore, results showed there is not adequate communication between women with epilepsy and their doctors about these key issues. Additional results from the survey show an overall lack of female health knowledge among women, with nearly 82 percent of women indicating they were less than "very knowledgeable" about a broad range of female health issues as they related to epilepsy and AEDs. Knowledge about these issues is crucial because research has shown there are long term risks associated with the use of some AEDs, such as effects on sex drive and sexual function or bone mineral density loss."Women with epilepsy tend to stay on the same medication for a long period of time, and many women are reluctant to consider changing their medication if their seizures are under control. However, there are other important issues to consider beyond seizure control. It is important for women to take the initiative to have an informed discussion with their physician about treatment choices that are right for them in their current stage of life," said Blanca R. Vazquez, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, New York University School of Medicine. "Even if women are planning to have a family five years from now, or menopause is ten years away, it is never too soon to discuss how epilepsy and the medications taken to manage seizures might impact their life."

TWO WEEKS AGO, Taylor Huey hardly could have imagined himself walking through Central Park or staring down on the bustling city from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. But thanks to his new four-legged companion, Chelsea, a trained seizure-response dog, the 17-year-old from Monroe, La., felt safe as he made his way through the Big Apple. "I feel so free," said the high school sophomore, who suffers from severe epilepsy, of his new life with Chelsea. "I feel like nothing is going to happen to me when she's around." The 2-year-old golden retriever recently was donated to Huey by Canine Assistants, a Georgia-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide service dogs to people with physical disabilities or other special needs. Huey and Chelsea were in town this week to help educate New Yorkers who suffer from epilepsy about seizure-response dogs. In New York City, an estimated 120,000 people live with epilepsy, a disease that affects people of all ages, said Tara Powers, acting president of the Epilepsy Foundation's New York chapter. Seizure-response dogs are one treatment option that can enhance an epileptic's quality of life, Powers said. - Amy Sacks

Epilepsy; Ethinyl estradiol in oral contraceptives reduces serum lamotrigine concentrations (NewsRx.com, 11/5/2005)
Ethinyl estradiol in oral contraceptives reduces serum lamotrigine concentrations for women with epilepsy. Researchers in Norway conducted a trial "to study the interaction between lamotrigine (LTG) and hormonal contraception. LTG serum concentrations of female patients using either no hormonal contraception (n=18), an ethinyl estradiol (EE)-containing (n=11), or a progestogen (PG)-only-containing compound (n=16) were analyzed. Patients were recruited prospectively, and blood samples were drawn during drug fasting and at steady-state conditions. Comedication with enzyme inducers, valproate, topiramate, or sertraline was not allowed," reported A. Reimers and colleagues. "Some patients changed groups and thus served as their own controls. Samples were analyzed by a gas chromatography/ mass spectroscopy method. The Mann-Whitney U test was used for statistical comparison of the groups. The LTG serum concentration-to-dose ratio (CDR), expressed as (mg/L)/(mg/d) was significantly lower in women using EE than in the control group (mean ±SD, 0.010 ±0.004 vs. 0.017 ±0.006; p=0.003)."

Stopping epileptic seizures using omega-3, vitamin E, diet, and more (Health Sentinel, 10/20/2005)
Parents of a child with a possible seizure disorder asked their neurologist if there was anything they could do with diet to prevent the onset of a seizure. The neurologist replied that aside from the Ketogenic diet, which would only be considered in extreme cases, that there wasn’t anything that could be done. The author decided to research the matter at the local medical library and evaluated exposure to the following items in preventing or causing seizures: omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B6, selenium, carnosine, various foods (cow milk and cheese, citrus fruits, wheat, and food additives), NutraSweet or Aspartame, and pesticides. -Roman Bystrianyk

Questions arise on driving, seizures (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/16/2005)
While shopping with her daughter last summer at a drugstore in Chicago, Stefanie London abruptly experienced blurred vision. "The next thing I knew, I woke up at the emergency room," said London, a lawyer from Clayton who had suffered a seizure similar to the spells that afflict people with epilepsy. Doctors quickly discovered a benign tumor in the lining of her brain. Because she had been rendered completely unconscious, it was half a year before London could legally get behind the wheel of her car, even though she had surgery to remove the tumor within a month of her seizure and never had another problem. Strict prohibitions, such as a mandatory six-month freeze on driving that Missouri puts on people who've lost consciousness, have helped make traffic deaths because of epilepsy extremely rare. In Illinois, the restrictions are not so clear cut, although drivers who lose consciousness behind the wheel immediately lose their licenses.

Anticonvulsant Therapy; Rate of phenytoin-carbamazepine cross-reaction determined (NewsRx.com, 10/15/2005)
The rate of cross-reaction between phenytoin (PHT) and carbamazepine (CBZ) has been determined in patients undergoing anticonvulsant therapy. Investigators in Spain conducted a study "to evaluate the incidence of cross anticonvulsant hypersensitivity syndrome (AHS)" between PHT and CBZ "in hospitalized patients." A "retrospective chart review about the cross AHS was retrieved from pharmacy adverse drug reaction program from 1998 to 2002 in a 450-bed teaching hospital," explained N.M. Sierra and coauthors at Hospital Severo Ochoa in Madrid. "AHS was defined as the appearance of at least two symptoms with the first anticonvulsant drug (ACD). Cross AHS was considered if after withdrawal of a first ACD because of hypersensitivity symptoms, a new episode with similar or new symptoms appeared after exposure to a second ACD," the scientists noted. "The following symptoms were considered - rash, fever, hepatotoxicity, lymphadenopathies or hematological disturbances. Cross AHS between PHT and CBZ was observed in nine cases (45%)," clinical data showed. "After the cross-reaction event, four of them were treated with valproic acid, two with vigabatrin, two with phenobarbital and one with no treatment without developing further AHS."

Epilepsy Guidelines Will Suggest More Rapid Treatment with Anti-Epilepsy Drugs: Presented at AAP (Docguide.com, 10/12/2005)
WASHINGTON, DC --October 12, 2005 -- Guidelines still under development for the treatment of status epilepticus will suggest more rapid drug treatment of seizures in a pediatric setting, according to a presentation at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition. The Epilepsy Foundation of American is updating its 1993 guidelines for the treatment of status epilepticus and the American Academy of Neurology and Child Neurology Society are working on guidelines for diagnostic assessment of children with the condition. Taken together, Dr. Riviello said the two sets of recommendations should shift clinical practice. "We're recommending treatment sooner," he said, "and we'll say that there's little evidence that any one [diagnostic] test needs to be done." According to the 1993 guidelines, treatment with diazepam or lorazepam should be initiated if the seizures continue for 10 minutes; the new recommendations will push the threshold for drug treatment to 5 minutes, he said. The shortened interval between onset of seizure and medical treatment continues a decades-long trend of shortening the length of time needed to define and treat status epilepticus -- prolonged or repeated seizures that signify an enduring epileptic condition.

Senior Citizens Now Fastest Growing Group to Develop Epilepsy (seniorjournal.com, 9/28/2005)
Epilepsy is often considered a disorder of the young, or a disease that people are born with. But according to the National Council on the Aging (NCOA), people can develop epilepsy as they age, and the greatest number of newly diagnosed cases each year occurs in older people. Senior citizens, those older than 65, are now the fastest-growing group in America to develop epilepsy. According to the NCOA, knowing the difference between a "senior moment" and a serious disease such as epilepsy is critical. Epilepsy often develops as a result of common health problems in older people, and physicians face the challenge of simultaneously treating patients for epilepsy as well as for multiple health problems. In these cases, the potential for adverse drug interaction becomes increased."Epilepsy is one of the most often misdiagnosed, mistreated, or under-treated conditions affecting seniors," says NCOA President James Firman, Ed.D. The condition often is characterized by recurrent seizures affecting awareness, movement, or sensation. Epilepsy may, however, present itself differently in older people and is often confused with the normal signs of aging. Because epilepsy is more often associated with seizures causing convulsions, the more subtle but potentially dangerous symptoms, such as hearing unusual sounds, blurred vision, or sudden anxiety, are often overlooked.

Avoiding 'Pokemon' Seizures From TV, Video Games (WebMD Medical News, 9/20/2005)
The Epilepsy Foundation has issued new guidelines to help avoid rare cases of seizures triggered by flickering lights from TV and video games. The guidelines are particularly important for people who are sensitive to light, but "the suggestions are valid for everybody," Giuseppe Erba, MD, tells WebMD. "It's quite clear that the exposure to video games does not make you become an epileptic," says Erba. There are various factors, even in people who are predisposed to seizures, that contribute to the seizure activity triggered by lights. The Epilepsy Foundation also stresses that the frequency or the speed of flashing lights most likely to cause seizures can vary from person to person. "It's not clear what percentage of people has this particular vulnerability," he says. Past studies of healthy children have shown that 4% to 9% of the general public is sensitive to light, says Erba. An even smaller number is highly sensitive to light, and a fraction of that group may have seizures from rapidly flashing lights or fast-changing colors on a screen. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, photosensitivity epilepsy is more common in children and adolescents, especially those with generalized seizures, and becomes less frequent with age. "The risk of having a seizure if you are sensitive is only one out of 17,000 viewers if you are young," says Erba. "If you are older, it's even less. It's one out of 90,000," he says.Those numbers came from studies done in England a decade ago, Erba notes. "It doesn't reflect today's situation, with all these new video games that are coming on the market," he says.

Stroke victims risk developing epilepsy (Cox News Service, 9/20/2005)
Researchers in Norway have determined that stroke severity measured by the Scandinavian Stroke Scale is a statistically significant predictor for epilepsy after stroke. Data further shows that more than 20,000 Americans will develop epilepsy because of stroke each year. The research published in the August issue of the journal Epilepsia. In one of the longest follow-up studies performed with data from almost 500 patients, researchers found that 3.1 percent of people who suffered a stroke developed epilepsy. Those who experienced severe strokes had five times the risk of developing epilepsy post-stroke compared with those with less severe strokes. Neither treatment in a specialized stroke unit, age at onset of stroke or geographical location seemed to influence the risk of developing epilepsy after a stroke in this study. Researchers add it is vital that health workers are aware of the risk of post-stroke epilepsy. If they are able to detect epileptic seizures among stroke patients, treatment with anti-epileptic drugs is often effective in preventing the patient from having more seizures.

Kids fear epilepsy more than HIV (Mcleans Canada, 7/8/2005)
Many teens believe epilepsy would be more physically and socially damaging than diabetes, leukemia or HIV infection. Canadian researchers Dr. Elaine Wirrell and medical student Christina Cheung surveyed a group of 13- to 18-year-olds, of which 41 children were free of chronic diseases and 108 had asthma, diabetes, arthritis, epilepsy or migraine. They were asked about the impact of these diseases, as well as Down syndrome, leukemia and HIV infection. With the exception of Down syndrome, the adolescents rated epilepsy as having the greatest physical impact of all the diseases in terms of mental handicaps, injury and likelihood of death. Epilepsy was also thought to have a more negative impact on personality than the other diseases.

Potential novel treatment targets for childhood absence epilepsy (Journal of Neurophysiology, 7/6/2005)
New research suggests novel treatment targets for the most common form of childhood epilepsy...The findings from Wake Forest Univ. School of Medicine are reported in the July issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology. Through studies in animals, the researchers learned more about the possible brain pathways involved in [absence seizures] and tested a drug that revealed a potential new target for blocking seizures before they spread. "Many current therapies act on the entire nervous system and can have such side effects as sleep disruptions, dizziness and increased risk of developmental side effects," said Georgia Alexander, who with Dwayne Godwin, Ph.D., co-authored the new study. "Because this treatment blocks the pathway that may cause the spread of seizures, it could be more effective and have fewer side effects. (summary from News-Medical.net)

Epilepsy and schizophrenia may be genetically or environmentally linked (British Medical Journal, 7/2/2005)
Patients with epilepsy are about two and a half times more likely to have schizophrenia and almost three times more likely to have schizophrenia-like psychosis than people without epilepsy. In a population based cohort study that included 2.27 million people from Danish longitudinal registers, University of Aarhus researchers found that family histories of epilepsy or psychosis were significant risk factors for schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like psychosis and the effect did not differ by type of epilepsy. Also, the effect did not show significant differences between men and women.

Topamax® granted new indication for initial monotherapy for epilepsy (Ortho-McNeil Neurologics, 6/30/2005)
Topamax® (topiramate) Tablets and Sprinkle Capsules received FDA approval for initial monotherapy in patients 10 years of age and older with partial-onset or primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures. The recommended dose for monotherapy in patients 10 years of age and older is 400 mg/day in two divided doses. Approximately 58 percent of patients randomized to 400 mg/day achieved this maximal dose in the monotherapy controlled trial; the mean dose achieved in the trial was 275 mg/day.

Functional MRI Enables Noninvasive Evaluation of Epilepsy Patients (Radiological Society of North America, 6/28/2005)
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain reduces the need for invasive testing of seizure disorder patients being considered for surgical treatment, according to a study published in the July issue of the journal Radiology. The study evaluated the effect of fMRI results on the diagnostic work-up and treatment planning of 60 consecutive seizure disorder patients, including 33 male and 27 female patients. The fMRI findings helped five patients avoid additional surgery and altered the extent of surgery in four others.

Prognosis 30 years after temporal lobectomy (Neurology, 6/28/2005)
To assess the long-term outcome after temporal lobectomy, the authors obtained information from 48 patients and families traced though the NIH Medical Records Department, Social Security, National Death Indices, and other sources. Preoperative evaluation, limited by current standards, was based mainly on interictal surface EEG. After a mean 29.9-year follow-up, 24 were seizure free, and 10 had died. Early seizure recurrence and invasive EEG studies predicted worse long-term outcome.

Factors at diagnosis predict subsequent occurrence of seizures in systemic lupus erythematosus (Neurology, 6/28/2005)
The risk of seizure and epilepsy in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is increased in those patients with higher disease activity at baseline, prior neuropsychiatric SLE disease, and anti-cardiolipin and anti-Smith antibodies. In a recent study of 195 SLE patients, 28 (14%) had seizures (21 generalized convulsive, 7 partial) during their course of disease. Recurrent seizures or epilepsy occurred in 12 of 28 patients (43%).

Keppra approved as adjunctive therapy for pediatric partial seizures (UCB Pharma press release, 6/24/2005)
The U.S. FDA has approved Keppra® (levetiracetam) as add-on therapy in the treatment of partial-onset seizures in children four years of age and older with epilepsy. The approval was based on a 60-site, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 198 children 4 to 16 years of age with partial onset seizures with or without secondary generalization uncontrolled by standard AEDs. Those taking Keppra had, on average, a 26.8% reduction in weekly seizure frequency over placebo. Responder rates for patients taking Keppra were 44.6% versus 19.6% for placebo.

The Epilepsy Research Foundation Announces Recipients of New Therapy Grants Program Awards (The Epilepsy Project, 6/22/2005)
The Epilepsy Project and the Epilepsy Foundation announced the three recipients of their New Therapy Grants Program biannual review. These grants are providing a record $425,000 to advance translational research projects in epilepsy. Grant recipients were chosen on the basis of demonstrating a clear translational pathway to bring new therapies from the laboratory to patients with epilepsy.

UCSD Research Reveals Mechanism Involved With Lafora Disease (UCSD Health Sciences Communications, 6/14/2005)
Researchers at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have found that Lafora disease, an inherited form of epilepsy that results in death by the age of 30, can be caused by mutations in a gene that regulates the concentration of the protein laforin. These findings are reported in the June 14th issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. UCSD researchers found that malin physically interacts with laforin and regulates laforin’s concentration by marking it for degradation. Their results show that approximately 40 percent of patients with Lafora disease have mutations in malin that render it unable to mark laforin for degradation. This increase in laforin may lead to Lafora disease through aberrant glycogen metabolism.

Finnish study finds higher birth defect rate in offspring of valproate users (Neurology, 6/14/2005)
According to a Finnish population-based study, use of valproate during pregnancy increased incidence of malformations. Malformation rates were not elevated in offspring of mothers using carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, or phenytoin (as monotherapy or polytherapy without valproate).

Topiramate associated with lower HRQOL but self-evaluation returns to baseline over time (Epilepsy & Behavior, 5/1/2005)
Bonn researchers recently replicated previous researchers’ findings that “topiramate but not tiagabine appears to be associated with persistent negative cognitive side effects on frontal lobe-associated functions.” However, health-related quality of life ratings in patients taking TPM returned to baseline over longer-term treatment. “The latter finding may be interpreted in accordance with the observation that objective performance and subjective self-report under TPM can be dissociated.” TPM and TGB were compared in an open-label, prospective study, involving 41 patients, of which 20 discontinued prior to study endpoint.

Study: Surgery Reduced Sz. and Increased IQ in Children (Epilepsia (summary by HealthDay & ABC News), 4/25/2005)
Surgery reduces seizures and increases IQ in children with epilepsy, according to a German study in a recent issue of Epilepsia.The study tracked 50 preschool children for several years after they had surgery to treat epilepsy. A year after surgery, 82 percent of the children showed stable improvements in development and three of them showed gains of more than 15 points in IQ. Only seizure-free children showed gains in IQ. "This study on the long-term cognitive outcome of preschool children who had epilepsy surgery shows that children with a shorter duration of epilepsy, more localized etiologies, and a seizure-free outcome have the best chance for improving their cognitive function two to three years after a successful operation. The question [now] is to provide data to determine ideal timing of surgical treatment," study corresponding author Dr. Ingrid Tuxhorn said in a prepared statement.

Pfizer recalls Neurontin lot (FDA, 4/22/2005)
Pfizer Inc voluntarily recalled one lot (40,000 bottles) of 100 mg capsules of Neurontin because some bottles contain empty or partially filled capsules. Only 100 mg strength capsules from lot #15224V --distributed in October and November, 2004 --are recalled.

Epilepsy.com nominated for Best Health site in the 2005 Webby Awards (The Epilepsy Project, 4/20/2005)
The Epilepsy Project's Web site--www.epilepsy.com--has been nominated for the "Webby" award for "Best Health Web site." Hailed as the "Online Oscars" by Time Magazine, the Webby's honor outstanding web sites. As a nominee for a Webby Award, epilepsy.com is also eligible to win a People's Voice Award. Epilepsy.com, run by not-for-profit The Epilepsy Project, features epilepsy information and resources for both professionals and patients.

Hyperactivity and Inattention in School: Seizures or Lack of Sleep? (Gainesville Sun, 4/18/2005)
"When we treated kids with sleep disturbances, not only did their epilepsy get better, but their concentration and capacity to learn increased, as well," reported Dr. Paul Carney of the Univ. of Florida. UF scientists monitored the brain and muscular activity of 30 children with epilepsy during overnight stays. None had nocturnal seizures, but 24 had breathing disruptions and spent less time in REM, sleep. Twenty-two met the clinical criteria for inattention or hyperactivity.

Trileptal Label Change & Warning Letter Issued (FDA MedWatch, 4/18/2005)
Novartis Pharmaceuticals and FDA notified healthcare professionals about revisions to the WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS sections of the prescribing information for TRILEPTAL (oxcarbazepine) tablets and oral suspension, indicated for use as monotherapy or adjunctive therapy in the treatment of partial seizures in adults and children ages 4-16 years with epilepsy. The updated WARNINGS section describes serious dermatological reactions, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) that have been reported in both children and adults in association with Trileptal use. The PRECAUTIONS section has been updated to include language regarding multi-organ hypersensitivity reactions that have been reported in association with Trileptal use.

Gabitril Label Change--Chance of New Seizures in Patients without Epilepsy (FDA MedWatch, 4/15/2005)
Gabitril's (tiagabine hydrochloride)prescribing label has been changed to reflect the following: Post-marketing reports have shown that Gabitril use has been associated with new onset seizures and status epilepticus in patients without epilepsy. Dose may be an important predisposing factor in the development of seizures, although seizures have been reported in patients taking daily doses of Gabitril as low as 4 mg/day. In most cases, patients were using concomitant medications (antidepressants, antipsychotics, stimulants, narcotics) that are thought to lower the seizure threshold. Some seizures occurred near the time of a dose increase, even after periods of prior stable dosing. In nonepileptic patients who develop seizures while on Gabitril treatment, Gabitril should be discontinued and patients should be evaluated for an underlying seizure disorder. Gabitril is manufactured by Cephalon.

Levetiracetam May Reduce Seizures Caused by Brain Tumors (Medscape, 4/14/2005)
The results of a retrospective study suggest that seizures caused by malignant brain tumors can be reduced using the new anti-epileptic drug levetiracetam (Keppra) rather than conventional anticonvulsant drugs. Because levetiracetam is not metabolized by the liver, physicians said that using the drug to control tumor-related seizures might also reduce the risk of drug-drug interactions.

Risk of TEN and SJS lower in new users of VPA as compared to CBZ, LTG, PHT and PHY (Neurology, 4/12/2005)
A retrospective study of German prescribing records analyzed the risk of Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis in new users of AEDs. "More than 90% of SJS and TEN cases occurred in the first 63 days of AED use...Across a range of assumptions about frequency of incident use, the risk estimates vary between 1 and 10 per 10,000 new users for CBZ, LTG, PHT, and PHY and were consistently lower for VPA."

Study says 70 percent of children stay seizure free after discontinuing AEDs (Neurology, 3/22/2005)
An analysis the Nova Scotia population-based epilepsy cohort found that seventy-one percent of children taking AEDs (N=367) became seizure-free in 1 to 4 years. Thirty percent suffered recurrences, with one percent becoming intractable.

Did all those famous people really have epilepsy? (Epilepsy & Behavior, 3/15/2005)
According to UIC scholar and neurologist Dr. John R. Hughes, many historical figures said to have had epilepsy have been “misdiagnosed” by historians. Dr. Hughes wrote: “Epilepsy was misdiagnosed in 26% who had psychogenic attacks, in 21% with attacks of anguish, nervousness, fear, agitation, or weakness; and in 12% with alcohol withdrawal seizures. In some instances no evidence of any episodic symptom could be found. One unexpected finding was that 40% of these well-known, individuals had serious, often life-threatening, physical conditions as infants or very young children. This article is an attempt to correct the record with respect to these people and also to remind us of the many reasons similar misdiagnoses are being made today.”

Epilepsy and Depression: Shared Pathways + Shared Incidence = Shared Etiology? (American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, 2/18/2005)
"People with a history of depression have a 3 to 7 times higher risk of developing epilepsy," said Dr. Andres Kanner, a specialist on epilepsy at Rush University Medical Center, during the Annual Meeting of the AAAS. Kanner reviewed recent research indicating that shared neuronal pathways and abnormalities, especially involving the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA and serotonin, may link the etiologies of epilepsy and depression and predispose suffers of one condition to the other.

FDA grants priority review to levetiracetam for use in childhood epilepsy (UCB Pharma press release, 2/17/2005)
The FDA has been granted priority review to UCB Pharma’s supplemental new drug application seeking approval of Keppra® (levetiracetam) as add-on therapy in children and adolescents with partial seizures in the USA. The application is based on trial results in 198 children aged 4-16 years with refractory epilepsy taking one or two other AEDs at entry. Seven percent of children who took levetiracetam became seizure free during the 14 week double-blind, placebo controlled treatment period, compared with one percent of those taking placebo. Forty-five percent of patients taking levetiracetam achieved a 50 percent or greater reduction in seizures as compared to 20 percent on placebo.

Epilepsy and Pregnancy: A Real Possibility with Careful Management (The Oregonian (Portland, OR), 2/16/2005)
According to Mark Yerby, M.D., women with epilepsy can bear healthy babies and maintain their own health during pregnancy with appropriate planning and management. Dr. Yerby believes the lower birth rate among women with epilepsy reflects conception difficulties, usually due to altered hormone levels, rather than pregnancy or delivery complications. AED selection and management continues to be a source of consternation among neurologists treating fertile women. According to Yerby, "we still aren't able to tell you which medicines are safest." This uncertainty is true for AEDs in both the bloodstream and breast milk. Yerby’s latest study proposals include monitoring AED levels in breast milk and monitoring the possible interplay between serum hormone levels and seizure activity in women undergoing inpatient observation.

New Discovery Clarifies Neonatal Synaptic Development (Cell, 2/11/2005)
According to new research published in Cell and spearheaded by a multicenter team led by Stanford University neurobiologist Dr. Ben Barres, immature astrocytes are instrumental in neonatal CNS synaptogenesis due to their marked expression of thrombospondins (TSPs). Mature astrocytes do no express TSPs, a fact that helps explain why the adult brain has a far lower capacity for synaptogenesis. This discovery could eventually lead to improved treatment for epilepsy, often characterized as a disease stemming from an excess of neural synapses.

More Dietary Treatments to Control Epilepsy (Epilepsy Currents, 1/31/2005)
A new review of the ketogenic diet may not be the only effective dietary treatment for epilepsy. Dr. Carl E. Stafstrom’s review, published in Epilepsy Currents, suggests that the Atkins Diet (high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate), a diet enriched in polyunsaturated fatty acids, or overall caloric restriction may help control epilepsy. The review discusses the current clinical status of each dietary approach and suggests possible mechanisms of seizure suppression.

Early seizures after temporal lobectomy predict subsequent seizure recurrence (Annals of Neurology, 1/24/2005)
According to a study of 321 temporal lobectomy patients, early seizures postoperatively are associated with a higher incidence of recurrent seizures at one year. "These findings have implications for patient counseling, but they are also interesting in terms of understanding epilepsy," said lead author Anne M. McIntosh, PhD, of the University of Melbourne in Australia. "We can speculate that some individuals who undergo this procedure have epilepsy that for some reason is more persistent."

Researchers find epilepsy warning (The Age, 1/20/2005)
Scientists at Melbourne's Brain Research Institute have detected a biochemical reaction occurring in the brain up to 14 minutes before seizure onset. The reaction was discovered via MRI studies of the brains of people with focal epilepsy. Institute director Graeme Jackson says the biochemical changes might be "normal" parts of the brain trying to prevent the seizure. In addition, Jackson believes the findings could change the way epilepsy is viewed—largely as an electrical problem in the brain—and lead to more effective treatments.

New Together Rx Access Card Offers Medicare Patients Drug Discounts (TogetherRx.com, 1/12/2005)
Seven pharmaceutical companies—Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson (via Ortho-McNeil and Janssen) and Novartis—have launched the Together Rx™ Card to offer Medicare enrollees with no prescription drug coverage immediate drug discounts. The companies say the program will continue until a comprehensive Medicare prescription drug benefit is enacted into law and implemented.

Two cases of lamotrigine-related acneiform eruption (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 12/31/2004)
Two case studies detail lamotrigine-associated acneiform eruption, a side effect not previously recognized. During an outpatient visit six months after lamotrigine initiation, the patient presented with numerous acneiform pustules, comedones and cysts, which had reportedly appeared in the previous month. Regardless, the patient remained on lamotrigine until a manic recurrence prompted replacement with valproic acid. Within a few months, the acneiform eruptions disappeared without treatment. A second similar case is also discussed.

Chronic Epilepsy Decreases Brain Cell Production in Critical Learning and Memory Center (Neurobiology of Disease & Duke Medical Center, 12/30/2004)
A study published in Neurobiology of Disease is the first to demonstrate that hippocampal neuron production is decreased by chronic, rather than acute, seizures, said researchers from Duke University Medical Center and the Durham VA Medical Center. Rats with chronic epilepsy showed a 75 percent decrease in new neuron production in the hippocampus compared to normal animals, said Ashok K. Shetty, Ph.D., a research professor of neurosurgery at Duke and the study's senior author. Shetty says the finding explains why chronic epileptics are prone to learning and memory deficits and depression.

Regulatory Filings Submitted to FDA for a Pediatric Indication and an Intravenous Formulation of Epilepsy Drug Keppra(R) (levetiracetam) (UCB Pharma press release, 12/22/2004)
UCB Pharma, Inc., has filed a supplemental new drug application (sNDA) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a pediatric indication for the oral dosage forms of its antiepileptic drug Keppra® (levetiracetam), as well as a new drug application (NDA) for an intravenous form of Keppra®.

Pacemakers Could Save Lives of Epilepsy Sufferers (Lancet , 12/17/2004)
"Clinical characteristics of patients with peri-ictal cardiac abnormalities are closely similar to those at greatest risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. Asystole might underlie many of these deaths, which would have important implications for the investigation of similar patients and affect present cardiac-pacing policies....Asystole underlies a proportion of sudden unexpected deaths in epilepsy, which could be prevented by cardiac-pacemaker insertion."

Teva Announces Approval and Launch of 600 and 800mg Gabapentin Tablets (Teva Pharmaceuticals press release, 12/15/2004)
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. announced today that the U.S. FDA has granted final approval for the Company's ANDA for Gabapentin Tablets, 600 mg and 800 mg. Shipment of this product has commenced. Gabapentin Tablets are the AB-rated generic equivalent of Pfizer's anticonvulsant, Neurontin(R).

Antiepileptics are Ineffective Prophylaxes of Seizures (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 12/15/2004)
Mayo Clinic researchers say "no evidence supports AED prophylaxis with phenobarbital, phenytoin, or valproic acid in patients with brain tumors and no history of seizures, regardless of neoplastic type." The reasearchers conducted a meta-analysis of 38 years of randomized controlled trials to reach their conclusion.

Epilepsy foundation awards grants for new therapies, devices to treat seizures (Epilepsy Project, 12/14/2004)
The Epilepsy Project awarded approximately $300,000 to three inaugural recipients of the New Therapy Grants Program, a joint translational research initiative with the Epilepsy Foundation. The first recipient, Janet L. Stringer, MD, PhD, Dept. of Pharmacology, Baylor COM, was awarded a grant to determine treatment effects of ginsenosides. The second recipients, Robert Savit, PhD, professor of physics, U of Michigan, and Jonathan Edwards, MD, clinical assistant professor of neurology, Director, EEG Laboratory, U of Michigan, were awarded a grant to produce definitive proof of a concept for an ambulatory noninvasive recording device capable of signalling an impending seizure.

International Specialists Warn About Dangers of Discontinuing Epilepsy Treatment (Doctor's Guide, 12/10/2004)
Patients with epilepsy who stop taking their medication without medical supervision are more likely to require emergency room treatment and need more physician visits, according to a new survey of over 200 international epilepsy specialists presented at the annual congress of the American Epilepsy Society.

Antiseizure Drug Depakote Under Fire; Evidence Linking Depakote to Birth Defects Is Mounting (WebMD, 12/8/2004)
Pregnancy registry data presented at the American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting found that the highest rate of birth defects occurred among children born to valproate users. Dr. Kimford Meador believes the clinical evidence is strong enough to argue against the drug's use as an initial treatment for women who might become pregnant. "That is not to say that [Depakote] shouldn't be used by these women at all," he said, adding that the drug may be the only option for some women since it is often prescribed for the most hard-to-control seizures.

National Survey Shows Epilepsy Treatments Often Put Limits on Patients' Lifestyles (Eisai Inc., 12/7/2004)
While 85% of U.S. adults with epilepsy who are currently taking at least one medication are satisfied with their treatment regimen's ability to control seizures, almost half of the survey respondents (46%) said that they experience side effects from their medication. A majority of those respondents who reported side effects said fogginess or lack of clear headedness (77%), sleepiness (63%), and dizziness (60%) limit their ability to perform daily activities.

Schwarz Pharma Says Lacosamid Epilepsy Drug Effective (Schwartz Pharma, 12/7/2004)
Results of Phase IIb trials in the U.S. and Europe to investigate the efficacy of oral lacosamide supports that adjunctive oral lacosamide is an effective antiepileptic drug for partial seizures and is at the same time well tolerated. The primary reduction of partial seizure frequency and 50% responder rate analyses both showed a statistically significant and clinically relevant lacosamide effect when compared to placebo. A high number of the patients with uncontrolled seizures experienced a reduction in seizures of at least 50%. The most common side effects occurring with lacosamide during the trial were dizziness, headache, nausea and fatigue.

UCB Pharma, Inc. to Launch Keppra(R) Pregnancy Registry (UCB Pharma press release, 12/6/2004)
UCB Pharma, Inc. today announced the creation of the North American Keppra® (levetiracetam) Pregnancy Registry, a new surveillance study designed to monitor the outcome of pregnancies exposed to the anti-epileptic drug Keppra®. Patients or their healthcare practitioners will provide information on the pregnancy and the outcome of the pregnancy. Additionally, information will be collected on the child(ren) up to age 5. The new registry, scheduled for launch in January 2005, will help the healthcare community learn more about the impact of Keppra® exposure during pregnancy and any effect it may have on offspring, thus ultimately enhancing patient care. One unique feature of the registry is that both healthcare providers and patients may initiate enrollment.

Generic Epilepsy Drug Switch Tied to Seizures (WebMD Medical News, 12/6/2004)
Making the switch from a brand-name epilepsy drug to a generic one may increase the risk of seizures or other side effects, according to a new study. Researchers found that more than two-thirds of neurologists reported that their epilepsy patients experienced breakthrough seizures after switching from a brand-name epilepsy drug to a generic one in the past year. Breakthrough seizures are seizures that occur while a patient is on medication.

Zonegran appears effective in reducing frequency of complex partial seizures in patients with refractory epilepsy (Eisai Inc., 12/6/2004)
Zonegran (zonisamide) appears to significantly reduce the frequency of complex partial seizures in patients with refractory partial epilepsy involving one or more parts of the brain. Recent trial results suggest that both 500mg/day (p<.0001) and 300mg/day (p=.0005) doses of Zonegran were statistically superior to placebo in reducing the frequency of complex partial seizures. Responder rates (patients who experienced a 50 percent or greater reduction in seizures) showed a significant linear-dose relationship, with 52.5 percent, 42.2 percent, 29.6 percent and 17.9 percent of patients responding to Zonegran 500mg, 300mg, 100mg and placebo, respectively.

VPA Coadministration Increases Lopinavir Levels (Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 11/30/2004)
Serum levels of the antiviral lopinavir, a protease inhibitor commonly used to control HIV progression, are increased with coadministration of valproic acid (VPA), according to a study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. Plasma concentrations of a second antiviral, efavirenz, were not affected by concomitant VPA, and VPA trough levels do not appear to be influenced by either drug. In addition to VPA’s approved uses as an antiseizure and mood-stabilizing drug, researchers have surmised efficacy as a treatment for cognitive impairment commonly observed in HIV-infected patients. Many other antiepileptic drugs are contraindicated in patients being treated for HIV, either due to drug-drug interactions or exacerbation of specific disease effects.

Mood stabilizer valproic acid stimulates forebrain SC GABA neurogenesis (Journal of Neurochemistry, 11/29/2004)
The mood stabilizer valproic acid stimulates forebrain stem cell GABA neurogenesis. "Valproate, an anticonvulsant drug used to treat bipolar disorder, was studied for its ability to promote neurogenesis from embryonic rat cortical or striatal primordial stem cells. "Six days of valproate exposure increased by up to fivefold the number and percentage of tubulin beta III-immunopositive neurons, increased neurite outgrowth, and decreased by fivefold the number of astrocytes without changing the number of cells. Valproate also promoted neuronal differentiation in human fetal forebrain stem cell cultures."

NIH funds network to study drug-induced liver injury: Valproate to be studied (National Institutes of Health, 11/19/2004)
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a network of five clinical centers and a data-coordinating center to conduct studies over the next 3 years of patients who have suffered severe, drug-induced liver injury. The retrospective study will establish a registry of patients who have taken one of four specific drugs since 1994 and developed liver injury later. The four drugs are isoniazid, phenytoin, valproic acid and clavulanic acid/amoxicillin.

U.S. composition of matter patent for transported prodrug of gabapentin issued (Xenoport, Inc., 11/17/2004)
XenoPort, Inc. announced the issuance of a U.S. Patent No. for its proprietary compound, XP13512, and related analogs. XP13512 is a transported prodrug of gabapentin that is currently being tested in two separate phase 2a studies. As a transported prodrug of gabapentin, XP13512 utilizes high capacity transport mechanisms located in both the small and large intestine and rapidly converts to gabapentin once in the body. In contrast to gabapentin, XP13512 is absorbed efficiently from the large intestine.

Generic Epilepsy Drugs Not the Same (Univ. of Minnesota (via WebMD), 10/25/2004)
A new study shows patients on phenytoin are better off with the brand name version than the generic. Researchers reviewed the cases of eight patients who switched from Dilantin to its generic version in this month’s issue of Neurology. All patients experienced an increase in seizures and had to seek additional treatment from their doctors. The authors attribute the problems to a decrease in total drug concentration in the generic form.

Mayo Clinic Finds Ketogenic Diet May Be Started as an Outpatient Treatment for Children with Epilepsy (Mayo Clinic, 10/19/2004)
Results from a Mayo Clinic study that analyzed medical records of epilepsy patients suggest a ketogenic diet, which mimics the effects of starvation, can be successfully implemented with children on an outpatient basis. The study, which appeared in the September issue of Pediatric Neurology, offers data that compared inpatient (treating and staying in the hospital) and outpatient (treating and then returning home) treatments using a ketogenic diet. The researchers said the benefits of outpatient treatment include improved acceptability and ability to maintain and comply with the diet. It also avoids the expense, inconvenience and potential low blood sugar associated with starvation during inpatient initiation. However, the intense educational process that inpatients receive could be preferable for some families and centers.

Epilepsy Associated With Higher Risk For Learning Disabilities (Epilepsia, 10/18/2004)
A recent study published in Epilepsia, the official journal of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), indicates that people who have uncontrolled seizures on the left side of their brains are more likely to have learning disabilities, in comparison to people who have seizures on the right side of their brains.In the study conducted at the LSU Epilepsy Center of Excellence, adult patients of normal intelligence with either left temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) or right TLE were evaluated with reading comprehension, written language, and calculation tests. The Center researchers found that 75% of patients with left TLE had one or more learning disabilities. This was found in only 10% of those with right TLE. Additionally, those with left TLE reported higher rates of literacy and/or career development problems, such as a history of special education, repeating grades, or disrupted educational progress.

Zonisamide Appears to Reduce Seizure Frequency in Children With Epilepsy (CNS Annual Meeting, 10/18/2004)
New data suggests Zonegran reduced seizure frequency, and in some cases eliminated seizures, in infants 12 months of age and younger. Findings from this open-label, retrospective chart review were reported at the Child Neurology Society 33rd Annual Meeting. Researchers collected data from 50 patients, with a mean age of seven months. Patients were evaluated based upon caregiver reports. All patients were treated at a university-based pediatric neurology clinic. Twenty-nine patients (58 percent) experienced at least a 50 percent reduction in seizure frequency. Fourteen patients (28 percent) were seizure-free while taking Zonegran.

Epilepsy Study Shows Memory Loss After Brain Surgery (Epilepsia, 10/14/2004)
A study in Epilepsia reports some post-surgical epilepsy patients have a significant decline in verbal memory. Three months after surgery, 115 patients who underwent selective amygdalohippocampectomy surgery performed on either the left or right brain tissue showed signs of verbal memory loss. Initially, the resulting loss of memory was thought to be a possible effect of the trauma of surgery. However, 12 months later 30%-50% of those patients who experienced surgery to the left temporal lobe showed no recovery of verbal memory, while patients who had surgery on the right side of their brain regained their memory. The results indicate that the decline observed in a small portion of patients who had surgery on the right side of their brains was temporary and most likely the effects of complications in surgery. Verbal memory loss mainly affects those patients whose surgery was performed on the left side of the brain.

Epilepsy Drug Linked to Lower IQ (Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 10/13/2004)
Researchers from the U.K. reported significant reductions in IQ scores among children whose mothers took the epilepsy drug sodium valproate (Depakon) during pregnancy. The study by Chadwick and colleagues included 41 children between the ages of 6 and 16 who were exposed to valproate in the womb -- 52 were exposed to the epilepsy drug carbamazepine (Tegretol) and 21 were exposed to phenytoin (Dilantin). Forty-nine children were exposed to more than one epilepsy drug; another 80 children were not exposed to any epilepsy drugs. IQ scores were lower in the valproate children than in those whose mothers took other epilepsy drugs and in unexposed children. Valproate-exposed children had IQ levels that averaged seven points lower than normal, and they were three times as likely as unexposed children to have low verbal IQ scores. Researchers also found that women who had frequent tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures in pregnancy were also significantly more likely to have children with a lower IQ.

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