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Concern Grows over Seizures at Twilight Movie

The number of seizures and other physical reactions to a particular scene in the new Twilight movie is has prompted an epilepsy foundation to warn viewers away from the film.

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that there have now been at least nine reported instances of people suffering seizures during the latest Twilight film. The episodes are occurring during a graphic birth scene that features a strobe effect with flashes of red, white and black light.

As a result, officials at the Maryland-based Epilepsy Foundation issued a warning to their nearly 11,000 followers on Facebook suggesting that people prone to certain types of seizures should skip the film.

According to Dr. Tricia Ting, an assistant professor of neurology at University of Maryland School of Medicine, people susceptibel to this type of seizure suffer from what's known as photosensitivity, which is a stimulus-induced seizure disorder.

"They may have gone their whole lives without having a seizure," Dr. Ting told the Sun, "but in this circumstance, when presented with a flickering light, it can induce their first seizure."

A seizure trigger can be anything from strobe flashes such as those in the Twilight movie, or even driving past a repetitive pattern like a picket fence or watching sunlight flicker through trees.

"The stimulus triggers … an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain," Ting says. "That spark can lead to an electrical storm, which is a full seizure."

The most widely reported episode occurred in California where Brandon Gephart began to convulse during the graphic birthing scene. Paramedics rushed him to a nearby hospital after he began to convulse and struggle to breathe. His girlfriend, Kelly Bauman, told CBS reporters, "He scared me big time."

Another instance involved an Oregon woman named Tina Goss who took her daughters to see the movie and began to feel "strange" during the birth scene.

I "[s]tarted feeling sick to my stomach, like I was going to be sick," she told KATU in Portland. "Really hot, really sweaty, like on the verge of vomiting."

She didn't snap out of it until arriving at a nearby hospital. "My hands were completely blue for like two to three hours," she said. "The next day, I was so lethargic I felt like I'd, you know, like ran eight marathons."

Other instances have been reported in Maine, Utah, Massachusetts and Canada.

Dozens of teens have already reported on Twitter that they got sick during the movie, either feeling queasy or vomiting and/or fainting during particularly grisly scenes.

According to the Sun, Zach Pine, a retired physician from California, began documenting cases on a website after his 18-year-old son, who had never had a seizure, suffered one during the movie. He lists nine reported instances on his Google page.

As strange as it sounds, this phenomenon is not unheard of. In 2009, James Cameron's Avitar also reportedly caused some viewers to break into convulsions.

In 1997, nearly 700 children had to be hospitalized after watching a Pokemon cartoon on television.

A Kanye West video, entitled "All of the Light" comes with a warning that it could trigger seizures and advises "viewer discretion."

The phenomenon has also been known to occur in people playing video games.

Jessica Solodar, a mother from Newton, Massachusetts began blogging about the phenomenon after her daughter, Alice, suffered a seizure while playing a video game. 

"It takes an event like this Twilight movie to get people to even consider the fact that we have a public health problem that is much more extensive than people realize," she told the Sun.

Her daughter has wisely decided to forego the latest episode in the Twilight series. Although she initially wanted to see the movie, now that she's heard about the seizures. "She'd rather not take any chances," Solodar said.

Thus far, the film's production company and American distributor, Summit Entertainment, has declined to comment on the reported seizures.