New brain monitoring method would pinpoint babies at risk for seizures
Confusion and speech problems are frequent signs of seizures, but babies offer few such clues as to what ails them. Now scientists at the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute of the University of Florida report they have found a mathematical way to translate complicated brain wave readings into simple terms to help doctors and nurses more easily identify babies at risk for epilepsy. Epilepsy describes a group of disorders that occur when bursts of electrical activity in the brain cause seizures. It strikes more than 2 million people in the United States, according to the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke. Newborn children have the highest risk of seizures, according to the National Society for Epilepsy, because of immature brain development.
But it is difficult to tell whether babies are epileptic because they are often asleep. Even when awake, they cannot provide clues through their speech, nor do abnormal movements necessarily indicate a seizure. One way for doctors to be certain whether a newborn is having a seizure is through a diagnostic test called an electroencephalogram, or EEG, which monitors electrical activity through electrodes placed on a patient’s scalp. But the test is expensive, requires a high level of training to interpret and often isn’t readily available in hospitals.
John Pastor | EurekAlert!
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