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Study raises questions about use of anti-epilepsy drugs in newborns
Date:5/11/2012

a reexamination of the use of these drugs in infants, and our findings provide experimental data to support that need," says the study's co-lead investigator, Patrick A. Forcelli, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pharmacology and physiology at GUMC. "Phenobarbital has been used to treat seizures for over 100 years -- well before a Food and Drug Administration approval process was established-- and for more than 50 years, it has been the first drug of choice in the treatment of seizures in neonates."

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, epilepsy affects more than 300,000 Americans under the age of 15. Seizures in neonates are relatively common, and seizure incidence peaks in the first year of life and remains at a high level up to age four.

Recent studies of IQ and other measurements of cognitive function in children have suggested that exposure to certain anti-epilepsy drugs, either in utero or infancy, affects brain function, but the issue is highly controversial, Forcelli says.

"Seizures do not happen to a normal healthy brain," he says. "They are typically associated with, or are a result of, an injury or another neurological condition. So the issue is: what causes later deficits in function -- the underlying condition, the seizures, or the drug used to treat the seizures or some combination of these? Our study in otherwise normal animals suggests that drugs by themselves can be a significant factor."

The Georgetown researchers say their study was designed to look directly at the effect of the different drugs on normal growth of brain neural networks in otherwise normal animals.

This kind of study can only with research in animals, in which each component (condition, seizure and drug) can be controlled and examined separately and in combination.

This kind of study can only be performed in animal models, in which the drug effects can be examined separately from the effects of either seizu
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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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