Epilepsy is a serious issue that affects millions of people in the United States, including many children. Those who are suffering from epilepsy strive to find methods of treating the condition, as there are no cures for epilepsy. They try to find things that they can do in order to better their health and reduce their risk of seizures. In addition to antiepileptic medications, there are other methods that could help with this condition. A recent study has shown that there could be a correlation between vitamin B6 and epilepsy in children with severe epilepsy.
Can Vitamin B6 Help Control Seizures?
The discovery of a new gene was determined to be at fault in children with vitamin B6-dependent epilepsy by researchers at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and its clinical partner Great Ormond Street Hospital in the UK. Anti-seizure medications do not work to control seizures on children with this gene. Researchers found that children who have this rare gene might be treated with vitamin B6.
After treating these particular children with vitamin B6, researchers saw a substantial reduction in seizures. In addition, the treatment helped to reduce the risk of severe seizures that could cause damage to a child’s brain. Children with the vitamin B6 deficiency will require more of the vitamin than other children who are the same age. Genetic screening can help to find those children who are deficient of B6 and who may benefit from an increased dosage.
This is very promising for these young patients and their parents, and it could be something to look into if your child suffers from this condition. Most of the time, the vitamin deficiency happens in infants and newborns, which causes seizures that are difficult to control.
Currently, doctors provide vitamin B for epilepsy patients through an IV and perform an EEG study to see if there is improvement. If the EEG reveals an improvement, they know that the child has a B6 deficiency. The finding of this faulty gene and the advent of genetic screening could make this process even easier. While it is most often used for very young children, some doctors have tried B6 on older children and have had positive results.
Good Nutrition Is Always Important
While a deficiency of vitamin B6 is the only known vitamin deficiency that can cause seizures or make them worse, there are other dietary factors that could play a role. For example, low levels of minerals in the body, while rare, could cause changes in the electrical activity of the brain, and they could cause seizures. For some people, low levels of sodium, calcium, and magnesium could contribute to increased seizures.
Most of the time, you should be able to get plenty of sodium, magnesium, and calcium from eating a normal diet. However, those who have issues with their diet and who are malnourished may need to take supplemental minerals. This is something that you should discuss with your epilepsy specialist.
Research in this area is still relatively scarce. More research needs to be done here, as well as other areas of epilepsy, to help people find the best methods of controlling their seizures, especially when the medications do not work.
To learn ways the research community is working to tackle rare epilepsies read our blog, "Epilepsy Research and The Rare Epilepsy Network".
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