Doctor discovers vitamin deficiency led to child’s debilitating seizures

Here's what we know

LEAGUE CITY – Any parent would be horrified to see their child have a seizure.

For one family in League City, their baby hardly ever stopped having them.

It turns out, the reason didn’t require harsh medications and treatments - but a vitamin.

Learn the details on this shocking deficiency that’s been exposed, thanks to a local doctor.

Mother grateful for UTHealth doctor who discovered vitamin deficiency led to infant daughter’s debilitating seizures. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

When Violet Raney was an infant something terrible happened. She started having seizures, one right after another, all day long. Medications didn’t work until she was so drugged and could barely move.

“They’re not the best, they’re not the kindest, they can affect your liver,” said mom Charla Buras.

But now, Violet is a happy, healthy 10-year-old who is seizure free and has no memory of them.

“I just remember my mom telling me that I have had a lot of seizures and that I do need to take this medicine so, so like it will help me,” said Violet.

What did they find that finally worked?

“We found that her Vitamin B6 level in her spinal fluid was lower than it should be,” explained Pediatric Neurologist Dr. Gretchen Von Allmen.

It’s called pyridoxine deficiency -- meaning her body makes an extremely low level of B6, which causes awful seizures. The solution is simple.

“So they said you need to go put her on B6 right now. And I’m thinking, a vitamin is going to help her? I ended up leaving work, went and got the B6, crushed it up in her bottle, and from that day forward she never had one seizure,” said Charla.

Mother grateful for UTHealth doctor who discovered vitamin deficiency led to infant daughter’s debilitating seizures. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

So now, twice a day, every day, Violet takes nothing more than over-the-counter B6, mixed up in her juice.

As easy as it sounds, the problem is, that identifying this kind of epilepsy requires a spinal tap, which isn’t always a routine procedure and can be trying on families who are highly medicated and losing hope.

“If you do a thorough work-up, you have a chance to find something that’s really treatable, and if you don’t look you might not find that,” said Dr. Von Allmen. “The way things are in healthcare, sometimes families just don’t have access to the specialist in a timely fashion or the family just doesn’t know to keep pushing for that.”

And with each passing day of childhood, the clock is ticking.

“The days that pass that children continue to have seizures are days that their brains aren’t allowed to develop,” said Dr. Von Allmen.

But if parents of children with uncontrolled epilepsy hear this and get answers, they say it’s all worth it.

“If we can help one kid, one child, one baby that is not responding to medications,” said mom Charla.

“It makes all of the other tests that we do worthwhile,” added Dr. Von Allmen.

“She did save my life and I’m very grateful for her,” said Violet.

Mother grateful for UTHealth doctor who discovered vitamin deficiency led to infant daughter’s debilitating seizures. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Violet has never had a seizure again since starting B6. This form of epilepsy is genetic. Dr. Von Allmen said genetics is a common reason seizure medications may not work in some patients. Dr. Von Allmen also continues to see Violet and adjust the vitamins to her specific size as she continues to grow.