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Help those living with epilepsy

Epilepsy affects over 65 million people worldwide

250,000 people in Australia are living with epilepsy

Every 26 minutes, one person is diagnosed with epilepsy

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder of the brain marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of conciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain

Epilepsy in Pregnancy

For most pregnant women who have epilepsy, seizures remain the same. For a few, seizures become less frequent. For others, particularly women who are sleep deprived or don't take medication as prescribed, pregnancy can increase the number of seizures. 

Meet Jessica

Jessica Alvia knows a lot about epilepsy, having lived with it since she was 14 years old, and now with her husband David, is expecting their second child. During her first pregnancy and under the supervision of her specialist, Jessica tried to go off one of her medications and suffered a Grand Mal seizure. This type of seizure causes a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. It’s the type of seizure most people picture when you think about seizures. 

There are no real triggers for what causes Jessica's seizures but she notices that it can happen when she is tired or if her medication isn't well controlled.

Professor Andrew Bleasal, Specialist Neurologist at Westmead Hospital said, "it is critcal that the dose is adjusted properly as things change during pregnancy". 

The Goldilocks problem - too little, too much, or just right?

“The right level of medication is critical – too little medication can cause seizures and potentially life-threatening complications for mother and baby; too much medication creates side-effects including excessive weight gain, poor mental clarity and low energy," explaines Professor Bleasal.

Until now, blood tests were the only effective way to monitor the amount of anti-epileptic medication in a pregnant women’s body according to Professor Jan-Williams Alffenaar, Director of Pharmacology at Westmead Hospital, “and these blood tests are very expensive and are held for batch testing, meaning it takes between two to three weeks before the results are available”.

All-in-One Spectroscopy

Until now, blood tests were the only effective way to monitor the amount of anti-epileptic medication in a pregnant women’s body according to Professor Jan-Williams Alffenaar, Director of Pharmacology at Westmead Hospital, “and these blood tests are very expensive and are held for batch testing, meaning it takes between two to three weeks before the results are available”.

Professor Alfenaar is leading Westmead Hospital’s Pharmacology team on a world-first project using a simple saliva test to measure the anti-epileptic medication in pregnant women. Using advanced mobile technology, the small compact device called a Spectroscopy takes a sample of saliva and within seconds can provide a reading on anti-epileptic medications. The results can be send straight to the GP and if the pregnant women’s anti-epileptic medications are too low or high, the pharmacist can contact their GP or neurologist to adjust the dose immediately.

Australian research has shown that 4 out of 10 people have an anti-epileptic drug level which is either too low or too high. In this project we will see if this new test system can help find these people and provide them with the perfect dose for them.

Will you make a donation to purchase the device? Your donation will help those living with epilepsy like Jessica, in finding medication that works best for them.

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