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Epilepsy Drugs May Not Be Needed After Babies Suffering Seizures Leave Hospital: Study

The findings of new research suggests that long-term use of antiseizure epilepsy medications for babies may be unnecessary, or even harmful, leading researchers to recommend that the drugs are discontinued after infants leave the hospital following a seizure.

In a study published last month in the medical journal JAMA Neurology, researchers with the University of California, San Francisco indicate that they were unable to find any difference between infants who suffered a seizure after birth and were given the medications following discharge, compared to those who were not sent home with the drugs.

Researchers looked at data on 303 newborns with acute symptomatic seizures at birth, from nine U.S. Neonatal Seizure Registry centers. The babies were born from July 2015 to March 2018, and all had seizures at birth or within their first weeks of life. Two-thirds of the babies were kept on antiseizure medication, while one-third stopped before they left the hospital.

According to the findings, after 24 months, both those who continued using antiseizure medication and those who stopped shared a similar score on the Warner Initial Developmental Evaluation of Adaptive and Functional Skills (WIDEA-FS) test, which is used to assess the adaptive skills of children and often used to identify neurodevelopmental problems.

Researchers also found 13% of the children developed epilepsy, including more than one-third with infantile spasms. However, there was no association found between the risk of epilepsy and how long babies received anti-seizure medications.

Some antiseizure medications (ASMs) and epilepsy drugs can be neurotoxic, according to a number of studies published in recent years, which may cause serious side effects for children. If the medications are not useful, discontinuing the treatments after hospital discharge may avoid potential health risks.

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