Prenatal and perinatal determinants of neonatal seizures occurring in the first week of life

J Child Neurol. 2001 Sep;16(9):651-6. doi: 10.1177/088307380101600905.


To evaluate prenatal and perinatal risk factors for early neonatal seizures, we conducted a case-control study including 100 newborns with neonatal seizures in the first week of life and 204 controls randomly selected from a list of healthy newborns born in the same hospital during the study period. Generalized tonic seizures were the most common seizures observed (29%), although the majority of newborns (71%) experienced more than one type of seizure. The most frequent presumed etiology of neonatal seizures was hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (30%). A history of epilepsy in first-degree relatives was found only for cases. Neonatal seizures were found to be associated with maternal disease in the 2 years before pregnancy, mother's weight gain > 14 kg during pregnancy, placental pathology, preeclampsia, low birthweight, low gestational age, and jaundice in the first 3 days of life. The need for cardiopulmonary resuscitation was found only for cases (37%). The causal pathways for neonatal seizures often begin before birth, and some of the factors identified may be preventable.

MeSH terms

  • Asphyxia Neonatorum / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Benign Neonatal / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Benign Neonatal / etiology*
  • Epilepsy, Benign Neonatal / genetics
  • Female
  • Fetal Hypoxia / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / diagnosis*
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Risk Factors