Do you know of twins or triplets aged from five to 18 years, of the same gender, where one takes anti-epileptic medicine and the other doesn’t, and they live in Victoria?
Multiples with these combined attributes are very rare and the ATR needs to find 30 such sets to join a vital study into children’s bone health.
The study can also involve twins or triplets who don’t take anti-epileptic medicine plus a same-sex sibling who does. The sibling needs to be within two years of age to the multiples.
If you know of such multiples, please let them know they are very precious to researchers at the Royal Melbourne and Royal Children’s Hospitals in Melbourne. By joining a new study, they can help researchers to better understand how the use of anti-epileptic medication may affect the bone health of young people.
Previous studies with adults have shown that people taking anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are possibly at risk of lower bone mineral density (BMD). This increases their risk of broken bones with a simple injury, explains Prof John Wark from Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Head, Bone and Mineral Service.
“There is also evidence that those adults who started their AED treatment before the age of 18 had lower BMD than someone who started in adulthood,” he says.
“Next we want to look at a group of children and young people taking AEDs and compare their bone mineral density to a twin or same-sex sibling who isn’t taking AEDs to see if there is a difference.
“This will help us to work out if lower BMD is an issue for young people on AEDs and, if so, how can we help these young people to maximise their bone health so they are not at increased risk of broken bones,” Dr Wark explains.
The initial study requires the twins/triplets - with their parents - to make a single visit of around four hours to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Here, the parents complete a questionnaire while the twins/triplets undertake a non-invasive bone density scan and bone age x-ray as well as a blood test, and strength and balance test.
As well as furthering knowledge about AEDs and bone health in young people, the study can be of direct benefit to those involved.
“We will let parents know if their children’s test results are outside the norm in areas such as bone mineral density or vitamin D, and provide appropriate follow-up,” says Dr Wark.
He urges multiples and their families to join the study.
“This study is particularly challenging for us as we need children who meet a very specific set of criteria,” he says. “But we urge multiples to come forward as it can be very satisfying to use their special characteristics for a good purpose and, in this case, to make a difference to the lives of young people living with epilepsy.”