In this month’s research news, we highlight studies suggesting that unprovoked seizure onset in US veterans, psychogenic nonepileptic seizure (PNES), and socioeconomic status can have severe impacts on people with epilepsy. We also feature a study that states antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) do not increase the risk of a fetus developing genetic mutations. Finally, we report on a non-invasive treatment for severe pediatric, treatment resistant seizures.
Summaries of these research studies are presented below.
- Seizure Onset and Dementia: US military veterans over the age of 73 who developed unprovoked seizures of unknown cause were twice as likely to develop dementia compared to veterans without seizures. Veterans who developed these seizures were more likely to be younger, black, have lower income, and a higher prevalence of co-existing illnesses. Learn more
- PNES Misdiagnoses and Death: Almost 25% of people who are admitted to a hospital for uncontrolled seizures actually do not have epilepsy. Instead, they have psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES), which resemble epileptic seizures but have a psychological cause rather than a neurological one. Researchers found that patients with PNES are 2.5 times more likely to die compared to people of their same age, and this risk is even greater for people under 30 years of age. Learn more
- SUDEP and Socioeconomic Status: Lower socioeconomic status is associated with higher rates of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), according to a review of medical records from three geographically diverse areas in the US. People with epilepsy living in the poorest communities were found to be more than twice as likely to suffer from SUDEP than those living in more affluent areas. Learn more
- Differing Interpretations of Genetic Data: Different genetic testing laboratories may show conflicting interpretations of genetic data. Because genomic testing has become routine in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of pediatric epilepsy, consistency in data interpretation is important. Learn more
- Antiepileptic Drugs and Birth Defects: A small study found that antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) taken during pregnancy do not increase the risk of a fetus’ developing new genetic mutations, i.e., those that arise in the sperm, egg, or fertilized egg rather than being inherited from one or both of parents. Learn more
- Body Cooling and Refractory Seizures: A treatment that lowers the body’s temperature called “therapeutic hypothermia” can shorten long-lasting seizures and improve outcomes in children with severe and treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy. Learn more