An existing diuretic may suppress seizures in newborns

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A diuretic drug called bumetanide may serendipitously help treat seizures in newborns, which are difficult to control with existing anticonvulsants, according to a study in the November 2005 Nature Medicine. The study findings could lead to clinical trials of bumetanide in newborns, whose immature, rapidly- developing brains are especially vulnerable to seizures – particularly preterm newborns, in whom seizure incidence can range to over 2 percent. Newborns’ seizures can cause long- term neurologic impairments and a tendency toward seizures later in life.

Conventional anticonvulsants – phenobarbital and benzodiazepines – are ineffective in newborns because their brains are biochemically different from adult brains, says neurologist Frances Jensen, MD, of Children’s Hospital Boston, a senior investigator on the study. Jensen’s team, led by postdoctoral fellow Delia Talos, PhD, collaborated with Kevin Staley and colleagues at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center to find a treatment for seizures that would work in newborns.