What We Learned About Cameron Boyce's Health After His Death

In July 2019, actor Cameron Boyce passed away at the age of 20 from what was initially described by the family as a seizure related to an ongoing medical condition, as reported via ABC News. At the time, the Los Angeles County coroner's office had been awaiting additional test results before finalizing the star's cause of death (per The New York Times). Since then, Boyce's cause of death has been confirmed as sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) (via County of Los Angeles Medical Examiner). His autopsy report detailed that the young actor had been taking an anti-seizure medication called Levetiracetam and had no other drugs in his system (via E! Online).

Following the news, fellow "Grown Ups" co-stars Adam Sandler and Salma Hayek expressed their heartfelt condolences on social media, highlighting Boyce's sense of humor, kind heart, and immense talent (via HCA Healthcare). "He was an incredibly talented performer, a remarkably caring and thoughtful person and, above all else, he was a loving and dedicated son, brother, grandson and friend," a spokesperson for Disney Channel told ABC News.

Boyce's parents, Libby and Victor Boyce, realized right away that there was a lack of knowledge surrounding SUDEP and subsequently developed The Cameron Boyce Foundation (TCBF) to raise public awareness of the condition (via Healthline).

What is SUDEP?

Sudden expected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is characterized by the abrupt, unforeseen death of a healthy person diagnosed with epilepsy from a life-threatening seizure (via Healthline). Per every 1,000 people living with epilepsy, there are an estimated 1.16 SUDEP cases that take place annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those who experienced seizures starting at a young age, have a history of recurring seizures, or have a medical history of epilepsy may be more susceptible to SUDEP. Males, those who experience nocturnal seizures, as well as people who sleep positioned on their stomach, may also be more prone to SUDEP, particularly if their breathing is hindered by lying face down on a pillow (via The New York Times). ABC News reported that Boyce had died while sleeping.

"Researchers are still working to understand SUDEP," neurologist and epilepsy specialist Dr. Suzette LaRoche told HCA Healthcare. "We know that the majority of these cases occur during sleep. It can happen to anyone but people with uncontrolled Grand Mal seizures are at highest risk, especially if the seizures occur at night." Now medically referred to as tonic-clonic seizures, these seizures involve severe muscle contractions and temporary loss of consciousness, per the Mayo Clinic.

Cameron Boyce began having seizures as a teenager

While anyone can be affected by epilepsy, it most often develops during late adulthood or early childhood, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, Boyce did not experience seizures as a child. Rather, his first seizure occurred at the age of 16 (via Healthline). Cameron's father described the experience as confusing, saying that his son's symptoms had resolved while in the midst of EMS transport to the hospital.

It was more than a year later when Cameron experienced a second seizure and was formally diagnosed with epilepsy. He was given prescription medication; another year went by before a third seizure occurred. While Cameron's frequency of seizures was less than other epilepsy patients the family knew, after his fourth seizure, his parents felt they weren't getting sufficient answers from their son's healthcare team. His last seizure resulted in the actor's death on July 6, 2019 (via County of Los Angeles Medical Examiner).

The Cameron Boyce Foundation offers resources and support

Cameron's parents have since created The Cameron Boyce Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness and education around the condition and contributing funds to epilepsy research. According to the organization's 2022 Impact Report, The Cameron Boyce Foundation has raised $1.45 million in funds since it was established in 2019 and offers a support group that has grown to include over 800 members. Cameron's parents spoke to Healthline, offering their advice to families living with epilepsy, which includes tracking one's frequency of seizures and any known triggers, as well as specifically seeing an epileptologist for diagnosis and treatment options.

While the majority of epilepsy cases have no clear cause, seizures may be prompted by a brain tumor, head injury, stroke, or a person may be genetically predisposed to the condition, according to experts at HCA Healthcare. Symptoms can be effectively managed with medication, although some patients may respond instead to neurostimulation therapy or surgery. If you witness someone having a seizure, roll the person onto one side and do not place anything in their mouth, as this could limit their ability to breathe. If the seizure does not stop after one to two minutes, call for emergency services.