14-0-09 | Hope for children with Dravet Syndrome

14 September 2009
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University of Utah medical researchers have identified a gene that causes febrile seizures and contributes to a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome in some of the most vulnerable patients -- infants 6 months and younger.

Dravet syndrome, also called severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (SMEI), is a severe form of epilepsy. It appears during the first year of life with frequent febrile seizures - fever-related seizures that, by definition, are rare beyond age 5. Patients with Dravet syndrome can have febrile and other seizures severe enough to stunt mental and social development. Status epilepticus - a state of continuous seizure requiring emergency medical care - also may occur.

"For infants and children who suffer febrile seizures or have Dravet syndrome, the study offers hope where there often is little to be found", says Kris Hansen, president of the Epilepsy Association of Utah and mother to a child with Dravet syndrome.

"Dravet is such a hard syndrome to control, and any research that gives us reasons for what is happening with our children and hope for the future is absolutely amazing," Hansen said. "This medical breakthrough will bring prospects of relief to families dealing with the ongoing challenges of Dravet syndrome and febrile seizures."

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