Death within 8 years after childhood convulsive status epilepticus: a population-based study

Brain. 2011 Oct;134(Pt 10):2819-27. doi: 10.1093/brain/awr239. Epub 2011 Sep 13.


The risk of long-term mortality and its predictors following convulsive status epilepticus in childhood are uncertain. We report mortality within 8 years after an episode of convulsive status epilepticus, and investigate its predictors from a paediatric, prospective, population-based study from north London, UK. In the current study, we followed-up a cohort previously ascertained during a surveillance study of convulsive status epilepticus in childhood. After determining the survival status of the cohort members, we defined cause of death as that listed on their death certificates. We estimated a standardized mortality ratio to compare mortality in our cohort with that expected in the reference population. Multivariable Cox regression analysis was used to investigate any association between the clinical and demographic factors at the time of status epilepticus and subsequent risk of death. The overall case fatality was 11% (95% confidence interval 7.5-16.2%); seven children died within 30 days of their episode of convulsive status epilepticus and 16 during follow-up. The overall mortality in our cohort was 46 times greater than expected in the reference population, and was predominantly due to higher mortality in children who had pre-existing clinically significant neurological impairments when they had their acute episode of convulsive status epilepticus. Children without prior neurological impairment who survived their acute episode of convulsive status epilepticus were not at a significantly increased risk of death during follow-up. There were no deaths in children following prolonged febrile convulsions and idiopathic convulsive status epilepticus. A quarter of deaths during follow-up were associated with intractable seizures/convulsive status epilepticus, and the rest died as a complication of their underlying medical condition. On regression analysis, presence of clinically significant neurological impairments prior to convulsive status epilepticus was the only independent risk factor for mortality. In conclusion, there is a high risk of death within 8 years following childhood convulsive status epilepticus but most deaths are not seizure related. Presence of pre-existing clinically significant neurological impairments at the time of convulsive status epilepticus is the main risk factor for mortality within 8 years after the acute episode. The attributable role of convulsive status epilepticus on mortality remains uncertain, but appears less than is generally perceived.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Seizures / mortality*
  • Seizures, Febrile / mortality*
  • Status Epilepticus / mortality*