Genetics of epilepsy syndromes starting in the first year of life

Neurology. 2009 Jan 20;72(3):273-81. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000339494.76377.d6.


Background: Incidence rates of epilepsy in children are highest during the first year of life. Most frequently, epilepsy results from a metabolic or structural defect in the brain. However, some infants have clearly delineated epilepsy syndromes for which no underlying etiology can be identified except for a genetic predisposition.

Methods: We reviewed the current knowledge on the genetics of epilepsy syndromes starting in the first year of life. We focus on those epilepsy syndromes without a clear structural or metabolic etiology.

Results: Recent molecular studies have led to the identification of the responsible gene defects for several of the monogenetic epilepsy syndromes with onset in the first year of life.

Discussion: This knowledge has consequences for clinical practice as it opens new perspectives for genetic testing, improving early diagnosis, and facilitating genetic counseling. This overview of epilepsy syndromes and associated gene defects might serve as a basis for the selection of patients in whom genetic testing can be helpful.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epilepsy / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Syndrome