MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach is a part of a potentially groundbreaking study designed to confirm a new treatment for newborns with uncontrolled seizures. Now, a patient at Miller Children’s & Women’s is benefitting from the research.

Shortly after being born, Catherine Avelar started having seizures and was transferred to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Miller Children’s & Women’s. Corina Avelar, Catherine’s mother, was extremely worried for her daughter and began feeling increasingly distressed due to Catherine’s condition.

At this time, Nicole Cobo, M.D., pediatric neurologist, approached Corina about a brand-new research study that she was leading at Miller Children’s & Women’s: The LENS study. The LENS study met international protocols to be chosen as one of only 25 hospitals, medical centers, and children’s hospitals to participate in the study. The study is looking to establish that the drug Lacosamide, a leading anti-seizure medication used in adults and children can be safe and effective in treating seizures in babies.

With Corina’s consent to enter into the trial, Catherine became one of the first randomized patients at Miller Children’s & Women’s to receive Lacosamide.

“When Dr. Cobo introduced me to Lacosamide, I did some background research and that gave me lots of hope,” says Corina Avelar, Catherine’s mother. “I was aware that this was a trial, but Dr. Cobo convinced me with her confidence in the treatments, which helped me trust her to do the best for my baby.”

Newborn seizures are most common in babies with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), a type of brain dysfunction that occurs when the brain does not receive enough oxygen or blood flow. The condition requires time-sensitive management with therapeutic hypothermia. This treatment involves cooling the body temperature through a special blanket to attempt to halt and reverse the cascade of brain injury.

Monitoring for and treating seizures in newborns is critical in optimizing their neurodevelopmental outcomes. Infants can seize multiple times per hour, placing a high metabolic demand on an already injured brain.

“This study is important because across the age span seizure occurrence is highest in the neonatal population,” says Dr. Cobo. “This research study puts us one step closer to having the necessary information to best treat seizures in the high-risk neonatal population.”

For Catherine, the treatments have proven to be a success, with the seizures stopping and Catherine being discharged to go home. As a mother, Corina was heartbroken seeing Catherine suffer from seizures, but now that her baby is getting better, Corina is starting to feel better as well. She is thankful to Dr. Cobo for her care of Catherine, seeing that she is now living a better life.

With Catherine’s treatment being a success, the outlook of the LENS study seems that much brighter. Babies across the nation and the world could benefit from the results of the study, as doctors and researchers continue to find the safest and best dose of Lacosamide for babies and continue developing and optimizing treatment for neonatal seizures.