Help for Babies With Seizures

Problem

Infantile spasms constitute a unique and very serious epilepsy syndrome confined to infants. Also known as West syndrome, it affects approximately two in every 10,000 children and the cause is complex and thought to be influenced by multiple factors. Medical practitioners usually first observe infantile spasms at about three to six months. Infants are referred for EEG testing and a MRI to confirm the condition and then require medical treatment to prevent potential cognitive impairment.

Research

Dr. Morris Scantlebury has developed one of the first successful models for studying infantile spasms in the world and is now using these models in his laboratory at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute to find new treatments. Infants are now prescribed intense hormone injections to reduce the spasms. But not all children do well – as many as one-third of infants are unresponsive. The research to find new compounds to treat this condition is urgent as the syndrome can be life-threatening.
In addition, Dr. Scantlebury is investigating the cause of fever-related seizures in infants. These infants often develop unmanageable epilepsy. His laboratory is studying proteins that play an important role in body temperature regulation. The results could lead to improved treatments which would prevent the risk of developing epilepsy.
Dr. Morris Scantlebury is an assistant professor in the departments of Pediatrics and Clinical Neurosciences at the Cumming School of Medicine. His research is funded by the CIHR and community donations through the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“Seizures can have such a negative impact on a child’s life so we are putting our best efforts into finding new treatments that will give these children a healthier outcome.”