Stories about: developmental delay

When a child loses milestones, consider sleep EEG studies

Excess brain electrical activity at night can disrupt development — but if found, may be treatable.

a-man-and-toddler-take-a-leisurely-walk-on-a-boardwalkThis is the second post in a series about new approaches for seizures and epilepsy. Read the first post here.

When a 2- or 3-year-old child begins losing milestones like language, walking skills and fine motor abilities, or is slow to achieve them, it’s devastating for families. The good news, at least for some children, is that it might be treatable.

Tobias Loddenkemper, MD, a neurologist in the Epilepsy Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, suspected that some children with developmental delay have seizure-like activity in the brain at night. These spikes of electrical activity, referred to medically as sleep-potentiated epileptiform activity, can be readily and inexpensively detected by electroencephalography, or EEG, and readily treated with nighttime anti-seizure drugs.

But likely, no one’s thought of it. “Very few physicians have been looking to see what’s happening at night,” Loddenkemper says.

He and research fellow Iván Sánchez Fernández, MD, with other colleagues, decided to look themselves.

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