A new study published in the December 14 Journal of Neuroscience shows that early life seizures can cause problems with the brain’s normal development. For the study, researchers at the Children’s Hospital in Boston showed that in a rat model it’s possible to reverse this pathology when you give certain drugs to the patients soon after the seizure occurs.

This research team was led by Frances Jensen, MD, in the Department of Neurology and Division of Neuroscience at Children’s Hospital. They looked at rat models to see how seizures “affected the brain’s development at the cellular and molecular level, and whether these effects could be countered.” The researchers were particularly interested in what the effect of seizures was on synapses (which are the connections between neurons that the brain is wired to). Since babies have the fastest synapse development, the study focused on baby rats.

“Our results show that once a seizure occurs, brain tissue has less synaptic plasticity,” says Jensen. “Seizures have ‘fixed’ the synapses so they have much less potential to respond to experience.”

Since it is known that early-life seizures can eventually lead to epilepsy, Jensen believes that this study’s results may be able to help explain the cognitive impairments that are most often seen in people who have epilepsy. The study showed that after a rat has a seizure, its brain tissue showed that there was a decrease in long-term potentiation (LTP), which occurs when there is a change in how strong the synaptic connections are. This is what is necessary in the learning and memory process and is characterized by a reduced electrical response to neuron stimulation. The LTP is widely considered to be how to measure learning process on a molecular level.

Epilepsy has proven to be a condition that is hard to combat, especially in adults. All of the medications (like Topamax) that are given to prevent seizures can’t seem to do it without causing serious adverse effects. One of those medications is Topamax which, ironically, can harm the baby before it’s even born. Topamax increases the chance of a baby being born with birth defects including oral clefts, PPHN and heart, lung and brain defects. If this new study proves correct, it may go a long way to ensuring that children do not wind up with full-blown epilepsy as adults. This would then help prevent medications like Topamax from becoming a threat to a future generation of children.

If your baby was born with birth defects after being exposed to Topamax, contact attorney Greg Jones today for a free consultation. I am experienced at fighting Topamax lawsuits and might be able to help you get the money that you are entitled to.