Babies With Seizures May Be Overmedicated


Babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or nursery who have their anti-seizure medication continued once at home do not have better functional brain development or a reduced epilepsy risk at two years of age compared to babies who have their anti-seizure medication discontinued before going home, according to a study published in JAMA Neurology in May.

Using data from neonatal seizure registries, researcher Hannah C. Glass, M.D.C.M and colleagues assessed the association between functional neurodevelopment or risk for epilepsy in babies who had sudden onset symptomatic seizures treated with anti-seizure medication, but who were taken off this medication before hospital discharge because their symptoms resolved.

This research study included 303 neonates who (a) were born from July 2015 to March 2018 and (b) experienced sudden onset symptomatic seizures. When looking at the Warner Initial Developmental Evaluation of Adaptive and Functional Skills (WIDEA-FS) scores of 270 toddlers at 2 years of age, researchers found that the babies who had their anti-seizure medication discontinued before going home from the hospital and those who remained on their medication once home had similar scores. Furthermore, the risk of epilepsy was the same between both groups of babies.

“We really need to balance the risks of continued medication with benefits to babies’ health,” one of the researchers explained in a statement. “If it’s not necessary, then keeping them on medicine could do more harm than good.”

Seizures in a Newborn

There are many conditions that can cause seizures in a baby. Simply put, seizures are abnormal electrical discharges in the baby’s brain. Fortunately, this means treating the underlying cause of the seizures can often stop the seizure activity. It is very important to stop seizures, as every time a seizure occurs, the baby’s brain can be injured.

Seizures in a newborn are typically a sign that the baby’s brain sustained an injury. Sometimes, a baby’s brain may be injured during or near the time of delivery due to oxygen deprivation. These babies are often diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) shortly after birth, the most common cause of neonatal seizures. Seizures resulting from HIE usually occur within the first 24 to 48 hours of life.

When a baby has HIE, admittance to the NICU is typically necessary. Major goals in the NICU include keeping the baby’s temperature, blood pressure, glucose and heart rate stable, as well as keeping the baby adequately oxygenated and ventilated.

A baby with HIE is often given hypothermia therapy (brain cooling). This is currently the only effective way to treat HIE. With this type of treatment, the baby’s brain is cooled down to a few degrees below normal. The treatment should begin within six hours after birth (or after injury) and may last up to 72 hours.

Grewal Law PLLC's Acclaimed Attorneys Are Here to Help

If your baby was diagnosed with HIE and/or experienced seizures after birth, or if you think your baby experienced a traumatic birth, lack of oxygen, brain bleed, delayed delivery, or delayed emergency C-section, please contact our team of seasoned birth injury attorneys at Grewal Law PLLC. Our legal team is composed of attorneys and health care professionals, including an on-site physician, registered nurse, occupational therapist, pharmacist, paramedic, and respiratory therapist. We also work with top experts from around the country.

If your baby was diagnosed with HIE, seizures, cerebral palsy, motor disorders, periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), hydrocephalus, intellectual disabilities, or developmental delays, or if you experienced problems during delivery or shortly before or after birth, call us at (888) 211-5798 to learn about your legal options. We remain available to speak with you 24/7.

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