Approach to seizures in the neonatal period: a European perspective

Acta Paediatr. 2010 Apr;99(4):497-501. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2009.01659.x. Epub 2010 Jan 5.


In the neonatal period, seizures rank among the most common neurological symptoms, often indicating an underlying serious neurological condition. It is remarkable that although new tools have been incorporated into the diagnosis of neonatal seizures, there is no consensus about the therapeutic approach among different doctors and institutions. Hence, although phenobarbital is still considered the initial drug of choice, the protocols reported in the literature show a great variability in the approach to treatment of refractory seizures. We used a questionnaire to gain information regarding the treatment of seizures in the neonatal period in different European institutions.

Conclusion: We conclude that phenobarbital is still the initial drug of choice followed by benzodiazepines, except in preterm infants with a birth weight below 1800 g. In refractory seizures, the use of continuous lidocaine infusion is most common. Of note, clinical studies with newer drugs have been mostly performed in the United States but not in Europe.

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / diagnosis
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Phenobarbital / adverse effects
  • Phenobarbital / therapeutic use
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / drug therapy*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Phenobarbital