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Phoenix hospital database aims to prevent seizures in kids with epilepsy

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LISTEN: Ketogenic database

PHOENIX — Doctors at Phoenix Children’s Hospital have a new tool to prevent seizures in certain children with epilepsy.

A new database will warn doctors about high-carbohydrate medications. These can send children on ketogenic diets into unending seizures. There are 2,600 medications currently listed.

One of the database developers was Dr. Andrew Muth, who’s with the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine in Phoenix.

He said the ketogenic diet – high in fats, low in carbohydrates and sugars – causes the body to make ketones (chemicals made from body-fat breakdown). In many cases, higher ketone levels mean improved seizure control.

However, he said, “there have been cases where such patients have accidentally been prescribed intravenous fluids that contain dextrose and had adverse outcomes, including breakthrough seizures and status epilepticus.”

A “breakthrough seizure” is the name for a seizure that happens to someone on a stable regimen of anti-epileptic drugs. “Status epilepticus” is the name for a condition in which seizures occur one after another.

Muth said his inspiration came from the hospital itself.

“There was a case at Phoenix Children’s Hospital of a child who came in for seizures,” he said. “In the course of the hospitalization, they were prescribed multiple medications to try and prevent these seizures from happening.

“The patient got worse, and ended up having to be admitted to the pediatric ICU. What they found was, one of the medications he was given contained sugars.

“We thought, ‘With the information that we have – and the databases we can build – this would be a great opportunity for our team to try to prevent this.’”

Dr. Muth worked with a multi-disciplinary team at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, including: Mary Babico, PharmD; Lisa Vanatta, MS, RDN, CSP; and Melinda Loya, MSN, RN. The group worked under the supervision of Vinay Vaidya, MD, chief medical information officer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“Using data and technology to protect and create better care scenarios for our patients is paramount and something we are very proud of here at Phoenix Children’s Hospital,” Vaidya said.

“This effort also further solidifies our renowned Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital Comprehensive Pediatric Epilepsy Program and our level four National Association of Epilepsy Centers’ accreditation.”

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