Boys fits of laughter caused by serious issue

A California boy was always thought to be a cheerful kid due to his random, almost uncontrollable fits of laughter — but then his family discovered it was all related to a serious illness.

Doctors at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital found a benign mass in 9-year-old Justin Cho’s brain, known as a hypothalamic hamartoma. It causes a rare form of seizures, which for Justin, appeared as a fit of giggles two or three times a day.

"This is something he's had ever since he was an infant," his dad Robert Cho told "We always thought that was just a sign of his body telling him he's tired."

Cho explained the condition his son had since he was an infant would usually happen once in the late afternoon, and again in the middle of the night as he was sleeping. Each burst of laughter lasted only a few seconds.

In July 2015, Cho and his wife watched their son have a full-blown seizure as he was waking up in the morning.

"I've never seen a seizure before," Cho said. "All our kids have always been healthy. This was the first time I've seen it. It was dreadful."

After months of different tests, Justin was eventually referred to the care of UCLA’s pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Aria Fallah, who discovered the mass in his brain.

He explained that if left untreated, the mass could cause learning disabilities, premature puberty, and even death.

So Fallah and his team got to work, using lasers to treat and remove the tumor in a minimally invasive procedure.

“Essentially, we cook the mass from the inside out. Once it’s destroyed, the epilepsy is gone,” Fallah said in a statement.

Justin was able to return home the following day, cured of his hidden seizures.