Anticonvulsant Drugs to Gain Speech
Posted April 23, 2012
Dear Dr Baker. My son is seven yrs old with very limited speech. Have done biomed for three years now with little results. His EEG results have come back normal due to two mild seizures he has had over the past two months. Should I put him on anticonvulsant drugs in hope he will gain speech?
Answered: April 25, 2012 by Dr. Sidney Baker
I like your question because it gives me a chance to expand on a simple ‘yes’ answer. Every treatment, no matter how well based it is on medical consensus or scientific evidence is, for each individual person, a sort of an experiment. It is not an experiment in the sense of a test of a general hypothesis. It is instead a test to see if the treatment will work in one particular person under certain particular circumstances at one particular time.
Your question reminds us that the target of treatment is the individual, not the disease. That being the case, the answer to the question of whether any of several medications that are classified as anticonvulsants might have a beneficial effect on your son’s brain and help with speech can only be answered by trying it. Like most such questions, the choices involved are driven by the risk, benefit, stakes and odds. How high do the odds need to be if the stakes are high, and the benefit turns out positive with little risk?
In the context of your question I think that your medical consultants may agree that it’s worth a shot, or two, or more just to check it out. Mild seizures with a normal EEG tells us that the evidence that we bring to these decisions can, at times, be imperfect. The best answers come from asking the patient’s body to give an opinion in the form of a response to a brief trial of treatment. There are now many drugs in the anticonvulsant category that may be used off label. There are, moreover, other drugs and biomedical options with similar status.
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