New pill for kids' epilepsy

Good news for children with epilepsy. The FDA has approved pediatric use of the drug Topamax - as an add-on treatment for children 2 to 16 who experience partial onset (affecting just one part of the brain) epileptic seizures.

Approximately one-quarter of the 2.3 million Americans diagnosed with epilepsy have seizures that resist treatment with traditional anti-epileptic drugs. When patients fail to respond to such drugs, their physicians may then prescribe an add-on medication.

Epilepsy onset can occur at any age, but 20 percent of cases develop before age five. Sometimes the cause can be attributed to severe head injury, brain tumor, infection affecting the brain, or stroke. But in most cases, the cause of the disorder is unknown.

The Epilepsy Foundation reminds us that in dealing with a person, adult or child, having an epileptic seizure, do not hold the tongue - contrary to popular belief, people with epilepsy do not swallow their tongues during seizures. Do not put anything in the mouth or restrain movements. Ease the person to the floor and clear the area of anything that might hurt him.


Most seizures are not medical emergencies, and do not require immediate medical attention. However, call for help if the following occurs:

* A second seizure begins shortly after the first - before the person regains consciousness.

* The seizure shows no sign of ending after five minutes.

* The person hits his head forcefully and does not regain consciousness after a minute or two, is vomiting, is having difficulty regaining full alertness after 20 minutes, complains of vision problems, has a persistent headache, or has dilated pupils or pupils unequal in size.

* The person has a seizure while swimming and there is any possibility that he has swallowed large amounts of water.

* The person has no known history of epilpesy (in this case, some other medical problem may be causing the seizure).