Seizures in Sleep Tied to Sudden Child Deaths

06.01.2024 posted by Admin

Sleep Seizures Linked to Toddler Deaths

Researchers from NYU Langone Health have examined home monitoring videos provided by families of seven deceased toddlers to investigate potential causes of sudden deaths during sleep in young children. Sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC) claims over 400 lives annually in the U.S., with about 250 deaths occurring in 1- to 4-year-olds during sleep.

The recent findings, disclosed in the Neurology journal, reveal that five out of the seven toddlers experienced brief seizures shortly before their demise. These seizures, lasting less than a minute, transpired within 30 minutes before each child's death, according to specialists' analysis.

The remaining two recordings showed intermittent activity, triggered by sound or motion, with one indicating muscle convulsion, a possible sign of a seizure. Laura Gould, the lead investigator and research assistant professor at NYU Langone, emphasized that despite the study's small scale, it provides direct evidence linking seizures to some sudden childhood deaths during sleep, typically unobserved.

Dr. Orrin Devinsky, the senior investigator and neurologist, highlighted the prevalence of seizures, which are more common than suggested by medical histories. He stressed the need for additional research to determine the frequency of seizures in sleep-related deaths among toddlers, as well as in infants, older children, and adults.

Concerned parents may wonder if there are preventive measures. Dr. Jon LaPook, CBS News chief medical correspondent, who was not part of the study but works at NYU Langone, mentioned the absence of obvious warning signs. However, he advised parents to be attentive to febrile seizures, convulsions linked to fever in children between the ages of 1 and 4.

LaPook acknowledged the increased risk associated with febrile seizures but urged perspective, as only 3% of children with such seizures go on to experience unexplained deaths. Despite one toddler in the study having a history of febrile seizures, autopsy results did not reveal a definitive cause of death for any of the children.

While acknowledging parental concerns, LaPook reassured that these cases are exceptionally rare. Laura Gould expressed hope that future research could identify at-risk children, potentially altering their outcomes and easing families' worries.
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