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This article was published in August 2014. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

Predicting epilepsy in infants

15 Aug 2014

A research team hopes to have identified an MRI marker that can predict which children will develop epilepsy after experiencing febrile seizures as babies.

Fever-related (or ‘febrile’) seizures happen to around three out of every hundred children under the age of five. Some of those children may have seizures lasting longer than 30 minutes. This is known as febrile status epilepticus (FSE). FSE carries a 40 per cent risk that the child will eventually develop epilepsy – often many years later.

This research was conducted by a team at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine (US). Dr Tallie Z Baram – a professor of paediatrics, anatomy and neurobiology – led the work. Dr Baram’s team aimed to identify which children would develop epilepsy as a result of FSE so that an intervention could be developed.

Dr Baram’s team identified an MRI marker in laboratory animals that successfully predicted which ones would develop epilepsy. One region of the brain – the amygdala – used up more energy and more oxygen if the brain would later develop epilepsy.

The next step in this research is to figure out whether the same marker predicts epilepsy in humans. The full study findings were published in an online edition of the scientific journal The Journal of Neuroscience on 25 June.

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