Image copyright Teena Oatley Image caption Teena Oatley says she knows if there is a problem because her daughter can’t stop looking at other people’s faces
Teena Oatley’s daughter Millie, 17, was taken to hospital when she was five years old when her health deteriorated suddenly.
Millie had a seizure but died three months later, and her family discovered she had epilepsy.
Like all children with the condition, this was devastating. It would have been tough enough had it been Millie’s first seizure, but then there was the epilepsy that had started when she was six.
“She had epilepsy, and its difficult to have those things at that age,” Teena told TV’s Britain’s epilepsy helpline.
The medication was “hard work,” she told the call centre team: “You don’t see little girls suffering those types of things at that age.”
It was a particular issue because Millie went through her food intolerances the same way.
“But I put it down to my genes being backwards,” Teena said.
‘Fat free and carb free’
An anti-seizure drug called midazolam had been prescribed for Millie, but it was causing intolerance to things such as bread and pasta.
So Teena decided to go gluten-free for a month.
“All of us with epilepsy suffer with the gluten intolerance as well, and we sort of look forward to that,” Teena said.
Image copyright Trish Helmands Image caption Teena Oatley consulted independent medical adviser Trish Helmands
She needed all the help she could get.
“Not only am I having to cope with my baby, now with my age, if I am in the kitchen trying to make pasta or something she might taste something she can’t, and then her brain goes into a seizure,” she said.
Trish Helmands, an independent medical adviser, has seen an increasing number of parents taking gluten-free diets for their children.
She recommends trying another diet for children in the same diet group as the child – one which might contain extra foods such as crisps, apples, cashews, bread or a full tray of yoghurt – to make sure it doesn’t start off innocent and become addictive.
Sometimes Teena thinks maybe gluten-free could have been the cure for her daughter’s seizures – after all, her grandchildren are gluten-free too.
“And if that was the case then maybe it could be for my own daughter,” she added.