Zarontin – The First-Line of Treatment for Children with Absence Epilepsy

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According to an article published in WebMD, researchers found that Zarontin, one of the oldest drugs used to treat epilepsy, is also one of the most effective drugs to treat this condition. The research study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

As many as 17% of children with epilepsy have absence seizures, also known as petit mal seizures, which involve brief but frequent staring spells that can occur dozens or even hundreds of times a day. These children do not have the convulsions typically associated with epilepsy, but they are at high risk for developing them later in life. During the 10- to 15-second seizure episodes, people with absence epilepsy become unresponsive and may stop walking or talking in mid-sentence. Children with these seizures often perform poorly in school.

Zarontin is the trade name of the anticonvulsant drug Ethosuximide. Ethosuximide is also known as Emeside. In addition to Ethosuximide, a physician’s other options include Valproic Acid and Lamotrigine. The study examined the efficacy of these drugs in treating absence epilepsy.

Lamictal was found to be significantly less effective than Zarontin or Depakote for preventing absence seizures, while treatment with Depakote was more likely to result in concentration problems than treatment with the other two drugs.

Moreover, Zarontin was found to have less of an impact on a child’s concentration and attention. If your child has absence epilepsy, be mindful that the newest and most expensive anticonvulsant on the market may not be your best option. Study co-author Shlomo Shinnar, MD, PhD, of New York’s Montefiore Medical Center noted:

Unless there are reasons not to use it, Zarontin would certainly be my first-line choice.

Contributing author: Jon Stefanuca

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