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Seizure study sheds light on lasting brain effects in children

Dec 2017: A study by Richard Chin and colleagues at the Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre provides insights into the long-term health impact of epilepsy in children.

The study - the first of its kind worldwide – provides insight into the long-term health impact of convulsive status epilepticus (CSE), in which a single seizure, or series of seizures, lasts for at least 30 minutes.

Researchers based at the Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre and UCL  followed the health of more than 100 children for nine years after they had CSE.  They found that lasting neurological conditions, including epilepsy, learning disabilities and movement problems were more common than expected for children from the general population.  Moreover, children who had existing neurological or developmental issues at the time of a CSE were more likely to have a neurological problem at follow up than children without an existing neurological or developmental issue.

CSE is the most common medical emergency in young children, affecting 1 in 5000 people per year in the developed world. The long-term consequences of CSE are not well established.

Our study indicates that children with pre-existing neurological conditions are far more likely to experience chronic neurological and cognitive problems following convulsive status epilepticus. This is a very important finding for planning long-term treatment for children whose brains may be more vulnerable to the effects of a prolonged seizure.

The findings also give hope to families whose children did not have neurological problems before, as the long-term effects of their child’s prolonged seizure may not be as marked as might be expected.

Dr Richard ChinDirector of the Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

Related links

Read the Scientific Article in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: Long-term prognosis after childhood convulsive status epilepticus: a prospective cohort study. Pujar et al. (2017). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(17)30174-8

Dr Richard Chin Principal Investigator profile

Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre

Neurodevelopmental conditions research in the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences