Epilepsy in children

Baillieres Clin Neurol. 1996 Dec;5(4):783-802.


Childhood epilepsies comprise a broad range of disorders which vary from benign to progressive and disabling. Accurate diagnosis of epilepsy type and determination of aetiology, when possible, are essential for appropriate treatment. The most common seizure type encountered in children is febrile seizures. These represent a benign condition which is not, in fact, epilepsy and usually does not require antiepileptic medication. When partial seizures occur in childhood, benign syndromes with spontaneous remission, such as rolandic epilepsy, must be distinguished from symptomatic epilepsies which may be refractory to medical management. Complex partial seizures in young children may appear different than in adults. The adverse effect profiles and dosing regimens of antiepileptic drugs in children are also different than in adults, and influence the choice of treatment. Epilepsy surgery should be considered for some children with intractible partial seizures. Generalized epilepsies also have a broader spectrum in children. The idiopathic generalized absence epilepsies are usually easy to control with medication. They range from childhood absence epilepsy which tends to remit in adolescence to juvenile myoclonic epilepsy which is a lifelong condition. In contrast, the seizures of West syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome are difficult to control, and treatment involves therapeutic modalities rarely used in adults such as ACTH and the ketogenic diet. Many childhood epilepsy syndromes have a familial predisposition, and the genetic bases for several disorders have been described.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Case Management*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epilepsies, Myoclonic / diagnosis
  • Epilepsies, Myoclonic / drug therapy
  • Epilepsies, Partial / diagnosis
  • Epilepsies, Partial / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy, Absence / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Absence / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy, Rolandic / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Rolandic / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Landau-Kleffner Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Landau-Kleffner Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Seizures, Febrile / diagnosis
  • Seizures, Febrile / drug therapy
  • Spasms, Infantile / diagnosis
  • Spasms, Infantile / therapy


  • Anticonvulsants