Epileptic Issues in Infancy Can Lead to Schizophrenia Later in Life

There are a number of different elements that must be tracked in order to protect the natural development of the brain. For those who are dealing with specific physical impairments at a young age, treatments and medications can significantly impact development. A recent post in the Science Daily suggests that anti-epileptic drug treatments administered when the brain is developing appear to trigger schizophrenia-like behavior in animal models. When examined in humans, the history of seizures in infancy is a significant risk factor for the development of schizophrenia later in life. Despite these findings, it is not yet known whether or not the elevated risk is a result of the seizures themselves or from the side effects of the anti-epileptic drug treatment. Either way, this element needs to be evaluated in order to determine the connection and if intervention and prevention are needed and possible. The research that was presented at the 29th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience by Georgetown University Medical Center researchers demonstrated that exposure to AEDs during critical periods of brain development in animal models increases schizophrenia-like behaviors. “We know that early-life exposure to AEDs such as Phenobarbital triggers cell death in many brain regions associated with the onset of schizophrenia,” explained Guillermo Palchik, a doctoral student in the department of pediatrics at GUMC. “This study not only suggests a relationship between the drugs and schizophrenia, but it raises important questions regarding the side effects of a widely-used class of drugs. Phenobarbital and other AEDs are not only used as a treatment for seizures but more generally in the treatment of migraines, neuropathic pain and mood disorders, among other ailments, and can be considered drugs of abuse.”

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