Hormone therapy shows benefits in treatment of childhood epilepsy

Posted Apr 25 2014 in Epilepsy in children

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A new clinical study has underlined the potential benefits of adrenocorticotropic hormone therapy (ACTH) in the treatment of epileptic spasms among young patients.

The research from Osaka Medical College aimed to assess the effect of ACTH treatment for late-onset spasms (LOS) – defined as epileptic spasms that begin after the first year of life – among 22 patients.

Typically, the prognosis for LOS patients tends to be poor, with no standardised treatment strategy having been established for this demographic. As such, 14 boys and eight girls were enrolled in the trial to determine whether ACTH could offer short or long-term benefits.

Age at onset of LOS and at the start of ACTH therapy ranged from 12 to 94 months and from 12.5 to 116 months, respectively. Clinical differences between responders and nonresponders were then assessed, with results published in the Seizure journal.

It was revealed that 41 per cent of the 22 patients showed cessation of epileptic spasms within three months of starting ACTH treatment, with spasms ceasing in four of these nine patients for more than one year.

Moreover, it was revealed that the age at onset of LOS was significantly associated with short-term seizure cessation. Patients who achieved short-term cessation of seizures received ACTH therapy within six months from the onset of LOS.

The researchers concluded: “ACTH therapy is a potentially effective treatment when started within six months from the onset of LOS. A younger age at onset of LOS is associated with a favourable outcome.”

Around one in 240 children under 16 in the UK has epilepsy. People who are affected by the condition generally experience their first symptoms while they are still children, though it can also develop later in life.

About 70 per cent of people with epilepsy have their seizures controlled with some form of anti-epileptic drug, although these are not effective for everybody, meaning there is high demand for new therapy options to be developed.

Posted by Anne Brown

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