Term early-onset neonatal seizures: obstetric characteristics, etiologic classifications, and perinatal care

Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Feb;85(2):163-9. doi: 10.1016/0029-7844(94)00375-N.


Objective: To describe obstetric characteristics and etiologic classifications and assess perinatal care in term neonates with early-onset seizures.

Methods: We performed a retrospective review of neonatal and obstetric records of neonates delivered at term with a diagnosis of early-onset seizures between January 1981 and December 1992 at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. Data regarding obstetric characteristics and etiologic classifications of the seizures were abstracted from the medical records. Lack of antepartum testing in high-risk patients, delayed intervention with nonreassuring antepartum or intrapartum fetal heart rate patterns, birth trauma, and failure to use prophylactic antibiotics or treat infection were the criteria used for identifying seizures that were potentially preventable.

Results: Forty term neonates had early-onset seizures out of 60,712 live births (0.07%). These seizures were attributed to hypoxic events in 15 neonates (37.5%), cerebral malformations in seven (17.5%), cerebral infarcts in seven (17.5%), intracranial hemorrhage in five (12.5%), infection in three, and an unknown etiology in three. Twenty-three neonates had 5-minute Apgar scores of 7 or greater (cerebral malformations excluded). Seven of these neonates (30%) had cerebral infarcts. A review of all records identified nine cases (22.5%) of the early-onset seizures as potentially preventable.

Conclusion: The majority of the term early-onset neonatal seizures identified did not appear to be preventable. Many of the neonates with 5-minute Apgar scores of 7 or greater had cerebral infarcts.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apgar Score
  • Brain / abnormalities
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / complications
  • Cerebral Infarction / complications
  • Female
  • Fetal Hypoxia / complications
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infections / complications
  • Obstetric Labor Complications
  • Perinatal Care*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Seizures* / diagnosis
  • Seizures* / etiology
  • Seizures* / prevention & control