This Happy Little Boy’s ‘Giggle Fits’ Turned Out to Be Rare Epileptic Seizures

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Nobody would think twice if a baby or a little boy happened to giggle a lot. Most parents would just consider themselves lucky to have a happy little kid who laughed a lot. That’s why Justin Cho’s parents were stunned when their son’s lifelong habit of giggling turned out to be a symptom of a mass in his brain.

Justin Cho’s parents told ABC News that their son had always giggled. Even when he was a baby, he’d just suddenly giggle at something every once in a while. The “giggle fits” weren’t long bursts of laughter or anything, just every once in a while, for about two to five seconds, the baby would giggle at nothing in particular. That sounds like perfectly ordinary behavior for a baby or a small child. People laugh all the time without any obvious reason. Sometimes people laugh just because they remember something that made them laugh before. So nobody realized the laughter was a type of seizure until Justin was nine years old and had an actual seizure. His parents recognized that one and immediately took him for medical treatment.

Doctors at UCLA discovered a benign mass in his brain and said it had probably been there since he was born. That’s also when they said the giggling was a rare type of epilepsy called “gelastic epilepsy.”

“It usually takes a long time,” said Dr. Aria Fallah, a pediatric neurosurgeon at UCLA. “Not many parents think giggling is problem, they think ‘Oh my child is happy.'”

Fortunately, this extremely weird story does have a good ending. UCLA surgeons were able to destroy the mass with laproscopic tools, so it was an almost noninvasive procedure. It’s been six months since Justin Cho’s surgery, and he hasn’t had any more seizures. He still seems like a normal, happy kid, though.