When first-time parents, Angelique and Darryl’s newborn daughter, Bella, began to have periods where she would “become absent” at just 3 and a half months old, they were of course concerned.
Her Mother, Angelique commented that “Bella was fine one minute then staring into space the next. It was like she was absent for a few seconds and then she’d twitch. And then she’d engage with me again and smile”. Unknown to the parents, these were of course focal seizures they were noticing in their newborn daughter. Focal seizures are a type of seizure whereby the person loses consciousness and becomes unresponsive for brief periods of time.
After some back and forth and a few hospital trips, baby Bella was diagnosed with epilepsy, causing the new parents anxiety and fear over their daughter’s health. Over the next few weeks, the seizures became more frequent with the young baby having “up to 8” per day. In addition, Bella developed infantile spasms, which last for a couple of seconds but can occur in clusters.
Doctor’s quickly got to work to find the right treatment, with the use of four different types of medications, including steroids. Although the medications helped a little, the side effects were too great with the baby gaining weight rapidly from the steroids and disturbed sleep.
Finally, it was recommended that Bella try a ketogenic diet, a high fat, low carb diet that requires the advice of a specialised dietician. The results were astounding, with Bella’s seizures reducing from multiple times every day to just once a week with intermittent periods where she may have daily seizures.
“It’s been a life saver” commented her mother, Angelique. “We know the diet makes a huge difference because straight away she had no seizures for two weeks and once we took her off the diet for the doctors to assess her and she had lots of seizures again.”
The diet has allowed Bella to lead a relatively normal first few years of her life. Where previously childminders or nurseries were hesitant to take her as they didn’t feel they were equipped to do so, she has been able to attend nursery and playgroup since the diet was implemented.
Bella is now 3 years old and the next step for her is to meet with surgeons at Great Ormond St to discuss the possibility of epilepsy surgery.
National Epilepsy Training can help
For more information relating to this story, epilepsy or the ketogenic diet. Please get in touch. Call us on 01706 373075 or email email@example.com.