A rare and severe type of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) begins during childhood years, that is, between the age of 2 and 6 years. Children with LGS frequently suffer from different forms of seizures, which might trigger developmental delays and learning difficulties, which can range from moderate to severe. Moreover, some kids might even have behavioral issues.
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome can be challenging to treat; however, several clinical trials are underway to design effective treatment plans. In the meantime, it is essential for parents to seek appropriate medical help, and, at the same time, provide their child with unconditional emotional and practical support.
Causes of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
The exact cause of this disease is still undetermined, but medical investigators believe that the following conditions can be responsible for it:
- Cortical dysplasia, where certain nerve fibers in the brain fail to align properly while the child is still in the womb
- Brain infections such as encephalitis, meningitis, and rubella
- Tuberous sclerosis, where noncancerous growths develop in multiple organs, including the brain
- West’s syndrome, a condition where seizures start during infancy
- Lack of oxygen during birth
- Serious injuries to the brain during pregnancy or delivery, which could be possibly caused due to premature birth or low birth weight
- Certain types of genes
Treating Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
The treatment plan for LGS will depend on factors such as the frequency and intensity of the seizures. Moreover, the doctor will also inquire about behavioral, developmental, or learning issues that the child is currently facing and any complications the mother might have faced during pregnancy.
- Prescribed medications
Since no single medication can help control seizures, the doctor will prescribe a combination of medicines to keep the epileptic episodes at bay.
- Medical marijuana
Since medical marijuana is legal in more than 30 states, it has garnered a lot of interest among parents as it can effectively help tackle health conditions such as LGS. Studies suggest that cannabinoids in marijuana alleviate pain, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea. Recently, the FDA has approved an anti-seizure drug made from marijuana that can help manage severe forms of epilepsy. Research suggests that after using these drugs, a significant improvement has been witnessed in patients with LGS.
- Special diets
Certain types of diets such as Keto, Atkins, or low-glycemic can lower the frequency of the seizures and the medications a child has to take. It still isn’t clear what roles these diets play in controlling LSG. However, if the diet is restrictive, kids might have to take vitamin or mineral supplements to make up for the nutrients they miss.
If medications and the diet are ineffective, the doctor might recommend surgery. Based on the child’s health and the parents’ preferences, the doctors either implant a vagus nerve or RNS (Responsive Neurostimulation) stimulator in the body to deliver electrical impulses to the brain when it senses any abnormal electrical activity.
For children who suffer from severe episodes of seizures, corpus callosotomy might be a preferred option. This surgery divides the left and right hemisphere of the brain to prevent seizures from spreading from one side to another.