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Epilepsy

Phenobarbitol in childen

03/16/2009

Question:

My 18 month old daughter was put on phenobarbitol to control febrile seizures. Her 3rd one was very severe due to aspiration so the neurologist felt this was the course. She was on it for 2 years and is now 11 years old. She is unable to stay completely focused for long periods of times, checking out and shutting down the brain. She is a bright student but complains of brain tiredness 75% through her work and her answers become less thoughtful and correct. Could this be related to her phenobarbitol? She also suffers from high anxiety although her homeplace is very calm and laid back.

Answer:

The use of phenobarbital when children are developing can lead to learning and memory problems (even after the medication has been stopped). This is one of the main reasons this medication is rarely used now.

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Response by:

David M Ficker, MD David M Ficker, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati