Medicine: Worse Than The Disease: Phenobartitol

In youngsters, phenobarbital may do more harm than good

The child's body turns rigid, the eyes roll back, and the limbs begin to jerk. These are the frightening signs of a febrile seizure. Triggered by a high fever, often during an infectious illness such as tonsillitis or flu, this type of convulsion is caused by violent nerve storms in the brain. About 130,000 of the 4 million children born each year in the U.S. will have at least one febrile seizure by the time they turn seven.

To prevent additional seizures and satisfy worried parents, physicians often prescribe phenobarbital. But according to a report in last week's New England Journal...

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