PROLONGED use of electronic gadgets could potentially trigger seizures in children, warned Dr. Gea Shanine Sedayao from the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC). 

Speaking during the Kapehan sa Dabaw on Monday morning, September 18, at SM City Davao, she emphasized that while there is no definitive study establishing a direct link between gadget use and seizures or epilepsy, the flashing and blinking lights from screens may pose a risk.

She said seizures can affect children as young as newborns up to 18 years old. The pediatric emergency room receives two to three admissions of children due to seizures, often related to infections or complex febrile seizures. In the outpatient department (OPD), the pediatrics division handles around ten patients with epilepsy every two days.

Comparing the current year to the previous one, there has been a noticeable increase in epilepsy and seizure cases. Sedayao speculated that the rise may be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, as many patients missed regular checkups.

The distance of hospitals also plays a role in the increased cases. Patients from remote areas like Surigao and Malita visit SPMC because specialized neurological pediatric care is unavailable in their provinces, necessitating travel for checkups.

Sedayao highlighted various factors that can trigger seizures, including metabolic imbalances, tumors, toxins, and other metabolic disorders. For a seizure to occur, there must be an imbalance in the human body's Gamma-aminobutyric acid (Gaba) receptors.

Metabolic imbalances, such as electrolyte disparities (e.g., low blood sugar), can trigger seizures, especially in infants. Inborn errors of metabolism in newborns can also lead to seizures. Infectious factors, like fever followed by a seizure, are potential triggers, with diseases such as Meningitis and Encephalitis being examples.

Other triggers of seizures include stress, fatigue, nutrition deficiencies, junk food consumption, and eating refusal. Sedayao emphasized the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, including consuming fruits, vegetables, and water. 

She advised parents to ensure their children have proper nutrition, manage stress, engage in physical activity, and have playtime with their kids instead of prolonged gadget use.

"Make sure that your kids stay healthy in terms of nutrition, so good nutrition– Avoid stress, get physical, get exercise, and have playtime with the kids instead of prolonged gadget use," Sedayao said.

She urged parents to carefully monitor their children's medication dosage carefully, especially when undergoing anti-seizure treatment. Proper balancing of weight and height with the medication dosage is crucial to prevent frequent seizure episodes. 

SPMC also warned the public about Status epilepticus, a seizure lasting more than 30 minutes, a potentially fatal form of epilepsy. Immediate medical attention is essential in such cases.

SPMC offers treatment for Status epilepticus and other abnormal seizures that do not respond to anti-seizure medication. Early treatment is vital to prevent brain damage and potential long-term neurodevelopmental issues.

The hospital strongly advocates childhood immunization, as many children missed vaccinations during the pandemic, leading to a rise in vaccine-preventable diseases. 

Patients with seizure symptoms or epilepsy can seek help at the Neuro Clinic under the OPD in the Jica building of SPMC. RGP