Study: Premature Babies May be More Likely to Become Epileptic in Later Life

According to information found in a new study, babies that are born premature may be more likely to develop epilepsy when they are older. This study was published in Neurology on Oct. 4.

Researchers gathered 630,090 adults in Sweden between the ages of 25 to 37 and followed them around for four years. The researchers were able to keep track of which patients developed epilepsy by monitoring their hospital stays and looking out for the filling of prescription medications (like Topamax) used for treating epilepsy. What they found was that of all of the participants, 27,953 were premature births, and 922 (15 percent) of that subgroup were put in the hospital because of epilepsy.

The study also found that the adults who were born as early as in their 23-31 week of gestation were five times more likely to end up in the hospital for epilepsy as adults in comparison to the full-term births. The full-terms births (born after 32 weeks) were only twice as likely to end up in the hospital for epilepsy. Finally, those adults who were born after 35 weeks gestation were a mere one-and-a-half times as likely to end up hospitalized because of epilepsy. The size of the babies played no role in the results.

Of the study, its author Casey Crump, MD, PhD, of Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., said, “Other disorders were also more common in people born preterm, including cerebral palsy and other diseases of the central nervous system. It’s possible that the association between preterm birth and epilepsy may be explained by a decreased flow of oxygen to the brain in the uterus during pregnancy that leads to preterm birth or abnormal brain development resulting from preterm birth itself.”

This study result is interesting considering that a prescription medication used to treat epilepsy, Topamax, is linked to birth defects in babies whose mothers take the drug while pregnant. Topamax is known to cause such conditions as oral clefts, limb defects, heart defects and other congenital defects, cranio-facial defects, spina bifida and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).

If your baby was born with birth defects as a result of Topamax use, contact Greg Jones today for a free consultation. I am an experienced Topamax lawyer who will fight hard to get you the money you may be entitled to.

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