Monday, October 31, 2011

Celebrating the Spirit of Halloween Without Seizures

Celebrating the Spirit of Halloween Without Seizures

by: Jenna Martin

As Halloween approaches, kids of all ages are busy feverishly selecting their latest Halloween costume, day dreaming about the endless supply of sugary goodness that awaits them, and deciding on how they are going to carve their pumpkin. And while the spirit of Halloween is in the air so too is the concern of parents of children with epilepsy on how best to keep their child safe while trick-or-treating as well as how to reduce the likelihood of seizures.
Photosensitivity Epilepsy & Halloween Safety
Cindee Boller’s youngest daughter Megan, age 12, has photosensitive epilepsy which is triggered by visual stimuli. “Since her diagnosis several years ago we’ve been able to redirect Megan away from places where there are strobe lights such as haunted houses without really calling attention to it,” said Boller. “Our goal is to make sure she has fun on Halloween without feeling self-conscious about her epilepsy or fearful that she might have a seizure around her friends.” Boller admits that this Halloween may prove to be more difficult. “Megan is at the age where she wants to be more independent, which is completely healthy and normal. But, because she has epilepsy which can be triggered by any of a number of stimuli either my husband or I have to be there with her while she is trick-or-treating even if we follow the teenage rule of walking eighty paces behind.”
Megan’s Halloween spirit seems no less hampered by her avoidance of haunted houses or other flashing lights. With her close friends by her side and their awareness of her seizures and potential seizure triggers she feels more confident in her ability to trick-or-treat just like any other kid her age. “If there is a strobe light at one of the houses in our neighborhood my friends will understand that I can’t go to that house to trick-or-treat and we will go to the next house. It’s really not a big deal,” said Megan.
It’s All About the Candy, But What About Dietary Restrictions?
Children with epilepsy on the ketogenic diet or Modified Atkins diet have special dietary restrictions according to Dr. Eric Kossoff, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.  Both diets significantly restrict carbohydrates, and chocolate bars and other candy given out at Halloween are about as pure carbohydrates as you can buy.  The temptations of cheating can seem almost insurmountable to some parents and trick or treating might be completely avoided.
Kossoff knows all too well the challenges parents of children on these diets face during Halloween. “Many ketogenic diet centers will have special Halloween parties at the hospital or an outside location as it can be difficult for children. Also, many of our families at Johns Hopkins on both diets will make their own treats (keto-friendly) at home.” He also encourages parents to have non-food items as treats available at home such as games, toys, and money, thus taking food out of the fun factor equation.  “It’s always nice to start new Halloween family traditions, such as dressing up, watching scary movies as a family, and going to farms for pumpkin picking and hay rides.  Eating doesn’t have to be part of any of those activities.”
As a mother of a son on the Modified Atkins diet, Susan Littlefield has first-hand experience with using non-food items as treats on Halloween. “Our son actually goes trick-or-treating for candy and then we buy his candy from him and reward him with a new game that he wants. We also have a Halloween party each year which I think our son likes a whole lot more than candy, but every child is different.”
However parents of children with epilepsy on special diets choose to help celebrate Halloween, both Kossoff and Littlefield agree that candy is a big No-No.

Click here - Epilepsy .com

Going trick-or-treating?

For many people, autumn events like Halloween and Harvest Day are fun times to dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating, attend parties, and eat yummy treats. These events are also opportunities to provide nutritious snacks, get physical activity, and focus on safety.
Below are tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for trick-or-treaters and party guests.

Alphabet letter SSwords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
Alphabet letter AAvoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
Alphabet letter FFasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
Alphabet letter EExamine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
Alphabet letter HHold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don't run from house to house.
Alphabet letter AAlways test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
Alphabet letter LLook both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
Alphabet letter LLower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
Alphabet letter OOnly walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
Alphabet letter WWear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
Alphabet letter EEat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
Alphabet letter EEnter homes only if you're with a trusted adult.
Alphabet letter NNever walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

Click here for more

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is Your iPad Giving You Insomnia?

Studies reveal that 61% of e-reader owners think bedtime is a perfect time to read an e-book, and among those surveyed, 37% spent read e-books the most while lying in bed. But when it’s time to hit the sheets, current research suggests the bright light from your iPad may cause bouts ofinsomnia.

According to Alon Avidan, a neurologist and associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), illumination from iPads or laptops right before bedtime may be a cause for sleep disturbances, including flat-out insomnia. Research shows light inhibits the release of melatonin, a hormone released by our brain to regulate our sleep cycles and circadian rhythms. Normally, melatonin increases at dusk, when natural light levels begin to lower, as a part of our bodies’ naturally-occurring sleep rhythms.

But the iPad’s bright back-lit display can disturb these cycles and leave you restless before bed. So while curling up with your iPad at night to read Oprah’s next book club pick seems like a smart way to lull yourself to sleep, your brain thinks otherwise. The color screen and blue lighting set the iPad apart from other devices and actually spark alertness. “When you look at an LCD screen that has more rich colors in the blue range, that could conceivably have an additive effect” on insomnia, Avidan says. The Kindle, on the other hand, doesn’t use a significant light source and therefore doesn’t impact the readers as much. [Full disclosure: No one's paying Blisstree to promote one e-reader over the other. Honest.]

And not only are iPad users reading before bed, they’re usually surfing the web, writing emails and engaging in it’s multiple apps and capabilities. That final round of Angry Birds right before lights out gives extra stimulation to the mind, preventing relaxation. I’m not saying sell your iPad on ebay and go back to paper; but just be aware of your e reader usage around sleep times. To avoid sleep problems, try to stop using devices with artificial light within 2 hours of going to bed for a good nights rest and hopefully sweet dreams.

Read more:

Adolescents Who Sleep Better Score Higher in Math and Physical Education

Adolescents with an average amount of nightly sleep score higher on mathematics than those who slept little or slept a great deal, according to new research. Those who sleep between six and ten hours (ie. an average sleep pattern) got significantly better scores, as compared to those with a short (6 hours or less per night) or long (more than 9 hours per night) pattern of sleep. This difference is particularly prominent in physical education.

This was the conclusion drawn in a study published in the January 2001 issue of the journal International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology by Raúl Quevedo-Blasco, a professor at the Department of Personality Evaluation and Psychological Treatment, at the University of Granada, and by Víctor J. Quevedo-Blasco, a secondary school teacher at the I.E.S Flavio Irnitano in Seville, Spain.

The aim of this study was to analyze how sleep patterns can affect students' academic performance. Their academic performance was measured in terms of mean grade -in common subjects and at global level- of a group of Secondary School students. To such purpose, the authors analyzed a sample of 592 students aged 12 to 19 years from a Secondary School center in a rural region in Seville. From these middle-class 592 students, 231 (39%) were men and 361 (61%) were women.

Two Different Questionnaires

The students answered two different questionnaires aimed at measuring the quality of sleep, level of sleepiness or tendency to get asleep of students in different situations. Authors found that adolescents sleeping more hours get higher marks in mathematics and that - --within average sleep patterns --- differences are more significant in physical education, as compared with the rest of school subjects. This can be due to the inherent characteristics of these subjects, as these two subjects involve skills that are more influenced by sleep patterns, as the study authors explain.

The researchers observed that bedtime and wake time do not significantly influence academic outcomes, except for those individuals who go to bed earlier and get up later. These students showed significantly lower academic achievement, as compared with their classmates.

The researchers also found significant information in connection with sleep latency (the time elapsed since the subject is lying in bed intending to sleep until they fall asleep). Scientists found that those who have a good sleep latency (less than 15 minutes) get significantly better marks than the rest.

As a general conclusion, the authors found that sleep patterns influence academic performance, probably because those adolescents with less daytime sleepiness got higher marks than their classmates.

Read more:

MIT researchers grow nerve connections; may lead to brain disease treatments

MIT scientists have devised a technique to grow nerve connections in a lab dish with the hope that one day the discovery could lead to new drugs to treat neurological disorders including autism and Alzheimer’s disease, according to information provided by MIT.

The idea behind the technique is to strengthen the synapses, or connections between the brain’s nerve cells or neurons, to treat brain diseases and the age-related decline of brain function. Each of the brain’s 100 billion neurons forms thousands of synapses with other neurons to rapidly share information, coordinate activities and achieve learning and memory. Breakdowns in the connections have been linked to neurological disorders and cognitive declines during normal aging.

The MIT research team devised a technique to grow synapses between cells in a lab dish under controlled conditions. They said that this may enable rapid, large-scale screens for potential new drugs. They have already identified several compounds that can strengthen synapses. They described their findings in the Oct. 25 online edition of Nature Communications. Such drugs could help compensate for the cognitive decline seen in Alzheimer’s, said Mehmet Fatih Yanik, associate professor of electrical engineering at MIT and leader of the research team that published the paper.

Peer Pressure in Preschool Children: Children as Young as 4 Years of Age Conform Their Public Opinion to the Majority

Adults and adolescents often adjust their behaviour and opinions to peer groups, even when they themselves know better. Researchers from the Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands, studied this phenomenon in four-year-olds and found that preschool children are already subject to peer pressure. In the current study, the researchers found that children conformed their public judgment of a situation to the judgment of a majority of peers in spite better knowledge.

Humans do not only conform to arbitrary fashions but also to majority opinion even when they know better. This conformity plays a crucial role in the acquisition of one's group's behavioural repertoire. We learn group specific behaviour by observing other group members. When confronted with information that stands in conflict with our own beliefs or preferences, we often succumb to the point of view of the majority.

Daniel Haun of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the MPI for Psycholinguistics and Michael Tomasello of the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology analysed how pre-schoolers handle information that they acquire from peers. A total of 96 four-year-old girls and boys of 24 different kindergarten groups participated in their current study. "We wanted to know whether preschool children conform their opinion to the majority even if the latter is obviously in conflict with their own point of view," says Daniel Haun.

In the first part of the study the preschoolers were tested in groups of four children each. They received seemingly identical books including 30 double pages with illustrations of animal families. On the left page were mother, father and child together, on the right only one of the three. The children were asked to identify the family member on the right. Yet, while the children believed all books to be the same, only three of the four books were actually identical, the fourth sometimes included the picture of a different family member on the right page. "The child with the divergent book was confronted with the -- from his or her point of view -- false but unanimous judgment of three peers," Haun explains. „Out of 24 children 18 conformed at least once although they knew the majority response to be false."

In a second study, the researchers investigated the motivation underlying children's conformity. In this study, depending on whether a lamp was on or off, children were supposed to either say their answer out loud or to silently point to the correct animal. Consequently, only the adult observer, but not the other children could see the answer. Of 18 children 12 conformed to the majority at least once, if they had to say the answer out loud. Were they to point silently to the right answer, however, only 8 out of 18 children conformed to the majority judgment. The children thus conformed their public, but not their private, answer to the majority. This indicates that the conformity has social reasons as for example to avoid conflict with their peer group. Daniel Haun summarizes: "The current study shows that children as young as four years of age are subject to peer pressure and that they succumb to it, at least to some extent, out of social motivations."

Read more:

How Motherhood Behavior Is Influenced by Alterations in Brain Function ..or is Brain Function Altered by Motherhood?

Instinctive mothering behavior towards care of newborns has long been recognized as a phenomenon in humans and animals, but now research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has shown that motherhood is associated with the acquisition of a host of new behaviors that are driven, at least in part, by alterations in brain function.

The research, by Dr. Adi Mizrahi of the and Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences and the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University, has just been published in the journal Neuron.It provides insight into how neural changes integrating odors and sounds lie behind a mouse mother's ability to recognize and respond to distress calls from her pups.
"We know that distinct brain changes are linked with motherhood, but the impact of these changes on sensory processing and the emergence of maternal behaviors are largely unknown," explains Mizrahi. "In mice, olfactory and auditory cues play a major role in the communication between a mother and her pups. Therefore, we hypothesized that there may be some interaction between olfactory and auditory processing so that pup odors might modulate the way pup calls are processed in the mother's brain."
Dr. Mizrahi and his post-doctoral colleague Dr. Lior Cohen examined whether the primary auditory cortex, a brain region that is involved in the recognition of sounds, might serve as an early processing region for integration of pup odors and pup calls. The primary auditory cortex is known as a site that undergoes functional changes in response to sensory input from the environment.
In their study, the researchers exposed regular mice, mice that had experienced interaction with their pups, and lactating mother mice to pup odors, and then monitored both spontaneous and sound-evoked activity of neurons in the auditory cortex. The odors triggered dramatic changes in auditory processing only in the females that had interacted with pups, while the lactating mothers were the most sensitive to pup sounds. The olfactory-auditory integration appeared in lactating mothers shortly after they had given birth and had a particularly strong effect on the detection of pup distress calls.
Taken together, the findings suggest that motherhood is associated with a previously un-described form of multisensory processing in the auditory cortex.

Insomnia Could Moderately Raise Your Heart Attack Risk, Study Suggests

Having trouble sleeping? If so, you could have a moderately higher risk of having a heart attack, according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In a recent study, the risk of heart attack in people with insomnia ranged from 27 percent to 45 percent greater than for people who rarely experienced trouble sleeping.

Researchers related heart attack risks to three major insomnia symptoms. Compared to people who reported never or almost never having these problems, people who:

  • had trouble falling asleep almost daily in the last month had a 45 percent higher heart attack risk;
  • had problems staying asleep almost every night in the last month had a 30 percent higher heart attack risk; and
  • didn't wake up feeling refreshed in the morning more than once a week had a 27 percent higher heart attack risk.

"Sleep problems are common and fairly easy to treat," said Lars Erik Laugsand, M.D., lead researcher and internist from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology Department of Public Health in Trondheim. "So it's important that people are aware of this connection between insomnia and heart attack and talk to their doctor if they're having symptoms."

Heart attack risk also increases with each additional insomnia symptom, researchers said.

Read more:

Could Airway Abnormality Point to Autism?

A researcher has found an abnormality in the airways of children with autism that she says may be the first anatomical marker for the neurodevelopmental disorder.

While examining children with autism who came in for a persistent cough, Dr. Barbara Stewart used a bronchoscope -- which can see down into the windpipe and the airways that branch into the lungs -- and noticed something different about those branches.

In a typical lung, the windpipe, or trachea, branches into two main stems. From there, airways branch off the stems much like tree branches in a random, asymmetrical pattern, said Stewart, a pediatric pulmonologist at Nemours Children's Clinic in Pensacola, Fla.

But in the autistic children, those branches were instead doubled up and symmetrical. And the branches were smaller -- whereas in a normal lung you might have one large branch jutting off, in the autistic child, she'd see two, smaller branches instead.

Stewart went back and looked at the bronchoscopy results of 49 children with autism spectrum disorder and more than 300 kids without the condition. She found that all of the kids with autism had what she calls symmetrical "doublets" in their airways, while none of the normally developing kids did.

"I don't know what the significance of that is ... But it looks like they have more of everything," Stewart said, adding that all of the autistic children had normal lung function and the anatomical difference may or may not explain the cough.

Read more:

Youth Helmet Study Measures Impact Frequency, Severity

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va, recently released results from the first study to investigate the head-impact characteristics of youth football helmets. The study set its goal as completely calculating and characterizing the helmet conditions in order to provide guidelines that will aide manufacturers in designing better helmets for children.

"Based on 8 years of studying head impacts experienced by Virginia Tech football players, we were able to quantify exposure for adult football players relative to impact location, severity, and frequency," Stefan Duma, PhD, Virginia Tech professor of biomedical engineering, says.

Duma, who is also department head of the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (SBES), the school that directed this project, continues, "Unfortunately, we cannot translate the adult exposure to the youth helmets because the impact conditions of youth football are completely unknown. To solve this problem, we are applying the same approach that we have used with the Virginia Tech football team to a youth football team.”

Beginning in August, the study followed the Auburn Eagles, a Montgomery County, Va, youth team made up of boys aged 6 years to 8 years. The players’ helmets were instrumented with custom 12-accelerometer arrays that measure how a child’s head responds to impact. Each time a player’s head felt impact, data was recorded and wirelessly downloaded to a computer on the sideline. To date, more than 400 head impacts experienced by the youth football team have been collected and analyzed.

The results of the study showed that, while most of the impacts collected were of very low severity, there were a few approaching impact levels associated with concussion in adult football players.

"Not only are the impacts generally less severe in youth football when compared to adults, but the frequency of the most severe impacts is substantially lower," Duma says.

Although the results of this study showed that impact frequency and severity is lower for youth football players, the researchers hope that steps will now be taken to create a safety rating system for youth football helmets that can be added to the National Impact Database’s STAR Evaluation System. The system was developed based on research conducted with the Virginia Tech football team.

Read more:

Epilepsy Drug Clobazam Approved By FDA

Epilepsy drug clobazam (Onfi) has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of a rare but severe form of epilepsy in adults and in children age two or older.

Dr. Russell Katz is the director of the division of neurology products in the agency's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

"Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy that causes debilitating seizures," Dr. Katz said in a written statement, Medpage Today reported.

"This is a difficult condition to treat, and it will be helpful to have an additional treatment option,” Katz added.

Onfi, manufactured for Lundbeck Inc. by Kentucky-based Catalent Pharma Solutions, has been on the market for years in other countries for treating anxiety and convulsions, Medpage Today reported.

Lennox-Gastaut, which typically begins before age four, can be caused by several conditions, including severe head injuries, central nervous system infections, and inherited degenerative or metabolic conditions.

It causes a variety of seizure types, including so-called tonic seizures (marked by stiffening of the body, upward movement of the eyes, pupil dilation, and altered breathing patterns).

Read more:

Antidepressant linked to developmental brain abnormalities in rodents

A study by researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco shows that rats given a popularly prescribed antidepressant during development exhibit brain abnormalities and behaviors characteristic of autism spectrum disorders.

The findings suggest that taking a certain class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – SSRIs – during pregnancy might be one factor contributing to a dramatic rise in these developmental disorders in children.

"We saw behaviors in the treated rats and neurological problems that indicate their brains are not properly conducting and processing information," said Dr. Rick C.S. Lin, professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences at UMMC and principal investigator on the study.

"However, based on this study alone it would be premature to conclude that a pregnant mother should stop taking SSRIs. A pregnant mother may do more harm to her baby through untreated depression than by taking prescribed SSRIs. This study is a starting point and a lot more research needs to be done."

The study appears online Oct. 24, 2011 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences at

The researchers treated more than 200 rats with the SSRI citalopram during key stages of brain development. Rats are born at an earlier developmental stage than humans, equivalent to the end of the sixth month of fetal development in humans.

Most rats received treatment for two weeks, beginning eight days post birth, a neurodevelopment period equivalent to the third trimester and early infancy in humans.

In contrast with control-group rats, the investigators found the treated populations were uninterested in play when young and displayed poor social behaviors as adults. The treated rats also showed abnormal responses to changes in their environment. For example, they froze at the sound of a novel tone and showed little interest in exploring new toys.

"These results demonstrate that rat pups, when exposed perinatally to SSRIs, exhibit behavioral traits often seen in ASD," said Dr. Kimberly Simpson, the paper's first author and UMMC associate professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences.

Read more:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Biggest Ever Study Shows No Link Between Mobile Phone Use and Tumors

There is no link between long-term use of mobile phones and tumours of the brain or central nervous system, finds new research published online in the British Medical Journal.

In what is described as the largest study on the subject to date, Danish researchers found no evidence that the risk of brain tumours was raised among 358,403 mobile phone subscribers over an 18-year period.
The number of people using mobile phones is constantly rising with more than five billion subscriptions worldwide in 2010. This has led to concerns about potential adverse health effects, particularly tumours of the central nervous system.
Previous studies on a possible link between phone use and tumours have been inconclusive particularly on long-term use of mobile phones. Some of this earlier work took the form of case control studies involving small numbers of long-term users and were shown to be prone to error and bias. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields, as emitted by mobile phones, as possibly carcinogenic to humans.
The only cohort study investigating mobile phone use and cancer to date is a Danish nationwide study comparing cancer risk of all 420,095 Danish mobile phone subscribers from 1982 until 1995, with the corresponding risk in the rest of the adult population with follow-up to 1996 and then 2002. This study found no evidence of any increased risk of brain or nervous system tumours or any cancer among mobile phone subscribers.

Sleepy and depressed: Circadian Rhythm Disorders and Mood

CIRCADIAN rhythm disorders driven by changes in the sleep-wake cycle have been identified as one of the major causes of depression.
Misdiagnosis and/or sub-optimal treatment of depression and the relatively little attention paid to changes to circadian rhythms that control physical, mental and behavioural patterns that follow roughly a 24-hour cycle is further hampering treatment of this malady.
“Up to 82% of depressed patients remain untreated due to social stigma, misdiagnosis, and under-treatment. More depressed patients are seen by primary care doctors than by actual psychiatrists, and a majority of them are not diagnosed. The remaining 18% receive antidepressant medications, but only 10% are adequately treated,” noted Prof Dr Mohamad Hussain Habil, past president of the Asian Federation for Psychiatry and Mental Health (AFPMH) at a media workshop organised by Servier Malaysia on “Circadian Rhythms and Depression” in conjunction with Mental Health Month.
“Hence, it is extremely important to develop a better understanding of the correlation between circadian rhythm disorders and depression to improve the recognition and management of the disease.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Important article on Developmental Delay: A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Dietary Supplementation With Fatty Acids in Children With Developmental Coordination Disorder

Diet and developmental delay treatment from 2005

The Oxford-Durham Study: A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Dietary Supplementation With Fatty Acids in Children With Developmental Coordination Disorder

Background. Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) affects ∼5% of school-aged children. In addition to the core deficits in motor function, this condition is associated commonly with difficulties in learning, behavior, and psychosocial adjustment that persist into adulthood. Mounting evidence suggests that a relative lack of certain polyunsaturated fatty acids may contribute to related neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders such as dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Given the current lack of effective, evidence-based treatment options for DCD, the use of fatty acid supplements merits investigation.
Methods. A randomized, controlled trial of dietary supplementation with ω-3 and ω-6 fatty acids, compared with placebo, was conducted with 117 children with DCD (5–12 years of age). Treatment for 3 months in parallel groups was followed by a 1-way crossover from placebo to active treatment for an additional 3 months.
Results. No effect of treatment on motor skills was apparent, but significant improvements for active treatment versus placebo were found in reading, spelling, and behavior over 3 months of treatment in parallel groups. After the crossover, similar changes were seen in the placebo-active group, whereas children continuing with active treatment maintained or improved their progress.
Conclusions. Fatty acid supplementation may offer a safe efficacious treatment option for educational and behavioral problems among children with DCD. Additional work is needed to investigate whether our inability to detect any improvement in motor skills reflects the measures used and to assess the durability of treatment effects on behavior and academic progress.

full article here

Fasting vs Ketogenic DIet - Epilepsy Warriors - Ask A Doc

 This week's question for Epilepsy Warriors...Fasting vs Ketogenic DIet

Fasting and being seizure free question. I have noticed for years that my son who has severe quad CP with seizures does not have seizures if he is not eating. I have seen this with having to fast for sedated cat scans, surgeries and just not eating due to stomach upset. I have seen or heard of this same thing occurring with many other children. I had been told it was probably due to fasting and making ketones. Similar to the ketognic diet effect. 

My question comes with how could that be the answer because when he has had stomach upset and only been able to drink clear juice and eat apple sause he is consuming more sugar than he normally ever would. I have the ketone strips and have actually tested him to see what the results are and they are in normal range. Being in groups on FB and other social sites I keep seeing a common post, my childs sick and can't eat but the good news is we are seizure free right now. I wander (sic) what the common link is? What chemicals does the brain make in on...

This weeks question is about the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate diet that is high in fat and adequate in its protein delivery. The ketogenic diet mimics starvation by forcing the body to live on facts. The brain then lives on breakdown products of fats called ketone bodies.

The ketogenic diet is intended as a treatment for refractory epilepsy. The diet is very effective in 1/3 of patients and approximately half of patients who try the diet of the decrees and seizures.

While this diet simulates fasting, it is the fueling of the brain by ketone bodies that makes it effective. There is now some experience with the Atkins diet which is only a low-carb diet and this too is effective.

In the story above, a child with is unlikely to be fueled by ketone bodies during an illness when they are fasting but still taking juices.

Now, please don't just start the diet before consulting with your physician!There are some children who should never be on the diet. There are some children who will not tolerate the diet. And, there are serious potentially side effects like any medication. For instance, 5% of kids can get kidney stones.

So, in summary, the ketogenic diet is effective in treating refractory epilepsy in children. The success lies in dropping the amount of sugar and not necessarily total calories. Please speak your neurologist if you are considering the treatment.

Want to learn more?

The Charlie Foundation

Recent news - How does it work?

Some scaaaary (and seasonal) medical research...Effect of a clown’s presence at botulinum toxin injections in children: a randomized, prospective study

And now for some seasonal and scary medical research. So apparenttly, in this small series.....Clowns scare boys under 7 getting botox. ...I wish I could have been at this human-subjects review board meeting...I wish I could see the informed consent...

Bottom line...ready...." Future studies should take into account the effect of the clown’s gender and the confounding effect of repeated treatment sessions."


Effect of a clown’s presence at botulinum toxin injections in children: a randomized, prospective study

Lars Kjaersgaard Hansen1, Maria Kibaek1, Torben Martinussen2, Lene Kragh3, Mogens Hejl1
1Department of Paediatrics, Hans Christian Andersen Children's Hospital, Odense University Hospital, Odense; 2Roskilde Hospital, Roskilde; 3Department of Statistics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

Background: The effect of the presence of a hospital clown during pediatric procedures has rarely been evaluated. In a pediatric ward, botulinum toxin injection is a painful procedure and a stressful experience for the child. We undertook a study of the effect of the presence of a hospital clown on children treated with botulinum toxin in an outpatient setting.
Methods: In total, 60 children, the majority of whom had spastic cerebral palsy, were subjected to a total of 121 botulinum toxin treatment sessions. Thirty-two children were being treated for the first time. During a 2-year period, we enrolled 121 treatment sessions prospectively, and the children were randomized to either the presence of a female clown during treatment or to no presence of a clown. The duration of the child's crying during the procedure was used as an indicator of the effect of the presence of a clown.
Results: The effect of the clown was significantly related to patient gender. Girls were found to have a significantly shorter period of crying when the clown was present. For children younger than 8 years, the effect on boys was negative. Children treated for the first time did not appear to benefit from the presence of the clown, and showed no difference in effect between genders.
Conclusion: No effect of the clown was documented for children being treated for the first time. At repeat treatments, we saw a positive effect of the female clown in relation to girls, and a negative effect on boys younger than 8 years of age.

Link to abstract

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why Do Some Athletes Choke Under Pressure?

Why Do Some Athletes Choke Under Pressure?

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2011) — Athletes know they should just do their thing on the 18th hole, or during the penalty shootout, or when they're taking a 3-point shot in the last moments of the game. But when that shot could mean winning or losing, it's easy to choke. A new article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, looks at why paying too much attention to what you're doing can ruin performance.

"We think when you're under pressure, that your attention goes inward naturally. Suddenly it means so much, you want to make sure everything's working properly," says Rob Gray, of the University of Birmingham, the author of the new article. And that is exactly when things go wrong. Something about paying attention to what you're doing makes it not work right.

Of course, athletes know that they should just relax and do their usual thing, but it's not very helpful to tell someone to just relax. The goal for psychological scientists, Gray says, is to figure out what actually happens when someone starts paying too much attention to their body. "Focusing on what you're doing makes you mess up, but why? How do your movements change? How can we focus on correcting those issues instead of telling you to stop trying so hard?"

Gray has found that baseball players that are under pressure have fewer hits because their swing varies more under pressure than at normal times. Other researchers have found that climbers move less fluidly when they're higher up on a wall than when they're near the ground, which suggests that their joints move less freely when they're more anxious.

The research shows that there are particular things that go wrong when someone is under pressure -- changing the angle of the club head when putting or throwing with more force. If those things can be identified, a coach could work on the particular problems.

One way to do it might be with analogies, Gray says. For example, a golfer who grips the club too tight when she's nervous might benefit from an instruction like "imagine you have an open tube of toothpaste between your hands and the contents must not be pushed out." This would both address the problem and get her attention away from how well she's doing.

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Journal Reference:

1.R. Gray. Links Between Attention, Performance Pressure, and Movement in Skilled Motor Action. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2011; 20 (5): 301 DOI: 10.1177/0963721411416572

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Brain scans support findings that IQ can rise or fall significantly during adolescence

IQ, the standard measure of intelligence, can increase or fall significantly during our teenage years, according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust, and these changes are associated with changes to the structure of our brains. The findings may have implications for testing and streaming of children during their school years.

Across our lifetime, our intellectual ability is considered to be stable, with Intelligence Quotient (IQ) scores taken at one point in time used to predict educational achievement and employment prospects later in life. However, in a study published today in the journal Nature, researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL (University College London) and the Centre for Educational Neuroscience show for the first time that in fact our IQ is not constant.

The researchers, led by Professor Cathy Price, tested thirty-three healthy adolescents in 2004 when they were between the ages of 12 and 16 years. They then repeated the tests four years later when the same subjects were between 15 and 20 years old. On both occasions, the researchers took structural brains scans of the subjects using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Professor Price and colleagues found significant changes in the IQ scores measured in 2008 compared to the 2004 scores. Some subjects had improved their performance relative to people of a similar age by as much as 20 points on the standardised IQ scale; in other cases, however, performance had fallen by a similar amount. In order to test whether these changes were meaningful, the researchers analysed the MRI scans to see if there was a correlation with changes in the structure of the subjects' brains.

"We found a considerable amount of change in how our subjects performed on the IQ tests in 2008 compared to four years earlier," explains Sue Ramsden, first author of the study. "Some subjects performed markedly better but some performed considerably worse. We found a clear correlation between this change in performance and changes in the structure of their brains and so can say with some certainty that these changes in IQ are real."

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