Lorazepam in the treatment of refractory neonatal seizures

J Child Neurol. 1991 Oct;6(4):319-23. doi: 10.1177/088307389100600406.


We report the results of treatment of intractable seizures with lorazepam in seven neonates. All of the patients were part of a prospective study, who failed to respond to 40 mg/k of phenobarbital. Lorazepam was given intravenously at 0.05 mg/k and repeated up to a total dose of 0.15 mg/k if necessary. The diagnosis of seizures and the efficacy of treatment was assessed clinically and by EEG during the administration of lorazepam in three patients and on clinical grounds in four patients. Six patients were full term and one was premature; there were five males and two females. Four patients had hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, two had intracranial hemorrhage, and one had bacterial meningitis. Two patients received one dose of lorazepam, three received two doses, and two received three doses. Six patients responded with a complete cessation of seizures within three minutes of their last dose; the remaining patient (who received two doses) had a reduction in seizures. No patients developed apnea or hypotension during or immediately after the infusion of lorazepam and no other adverse effects were observed. Four patients remained seizure-free for the rest of the neonatal period and no other anticonvulsant medications were added. Seizures recurred in one patient at 16 hours; subsequent intermittent seizures were managed with additional phenobarbital. In another patient, seizures recurred at 12 hours and subsequent intermittent seizures were managed with phenytoin. In one patient, seizures continued with reduction of frequency and duration. We conclude that lorazepam may be effective in the treatment of neonatal seizures refractory to phenobarbital and that further treatment with intravenous phenytoin may be unnecessary under these circumstances.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Lorazepam / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Phenobarbital / administration & dosage
  • Spasms, Infantile / drug therapy*


  • Lorazepam
  • Phenobarbital