Objectives: To study the occurrence, associated factors, nature and prognosis of seizures in children with cerebral palsy (CP).
Design: A prospective, descriptive, hospital-based, case-control study.
Setting: Tertiary level University Teaching Hospitals in the Al Ain Medical District, United Arab Emirates.
Patients: Fifty-six children with CP and seizures seen in the neurodevelopmental clinics at Al Ain and Tawam University Hospitals during the period of 1997-1999 were studied (group 1). Two control groups of 35 children with CP without seizures (group 2) and 50 children with seizures but no CP (group 3) were also studied.
Results: Spastic tetraplegia was the commonest type of CP associated with seizures whereas spastic diplegia was the commonest variety of CP in group 2. Most children with CP had an early onset of seizures within the first year of life as against those without CP. The children in group 1 had a higher incidence of neonatal seizures (42.9% vs. 29.4% in group 2 and 0% in group 3), presence of significant developmental delay (98.2% vs. 20.0% in group 3), occurrence of significant abnormalities on brain imaging (94.6% vs. 19.6% in group 3) and a need for use of more than 1 antiepileptic drug (66.1% vs. 30.0% in group 3). Over half of children in the study group presented with generalized tonic clonic seizures; the electroencephalogram (EEG) showed focal epileptic discharges with or without secondary generalization in 39.3%. The overall outcome of seizures in children with CP was poor needing prolonged course of anticonvulsant medications, polytherapy and higher incidence of refractory seizures and admissions for status epilepticus compared to the control group.
Conclusions: Cerebral palsy is associated with a higher incidence of seizure disorders, which, in a majority, has its onset in the neonatal period; brain imaging showed abnormal pathology in most affected children, which possibly accounts for the tendency to more refractory seizures in these children.