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Management Guidelines For Children With Idiopathic Generalized Epilepsy.

Carol S. Camfield, Peter R. Camfield
Published 2005 · Medicine
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UNLABELLED Most idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE) begins in childhood. Clinicians face many important management decisions for these children; however the existing literature provides little scientific guidance. TIME OF DIAGNOSIS At the time of presentation, it is unclear how accurately IGE seizures and syndromes are diagnosed and how consistent are the EEG correlates. Investigations beyond EEG are of uncertain value but probably are not needed. Selection of an initial antiepileptic drug (AED) is not based on any adequately powered, blinded, randomized comparative trials; however, reasonable evidence supports the use of valproic acid (VPA), lamotrigine and ethosuccimide as initial treatment for childhood absence epilepsy (CAE). Many large case series suggest the value of VPA for juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) but the relative value of other, newer AEDs has not been established. FIRST YEARS OF TREATMENT Once AED treatment is started, it is difficult to establish that absence seizures are completely controlled and the importance of interictal spike-wave discharge remains uncertain. The value of restrictions on the child's activities has not been well studied; however serious accidents appear to be a justifiable concern in children with uncontrolled absence. Assessing the risk from photosensitivity in JME is challenging. LENGTH OF TREATMENT The optimal length of treatment for IGE is unclear. There is a high rate of remission in CAE when AEDs are discontinued after 1-2 years of seizure freedom; however, long-term remission in CAE occurs in only 65%. It is usually assumed that treatment for JME is life long, although about 10% appear to have permanent remission in adolescence. Discontinuing AED treatment in JME requires a very individual risk assessment. PREPARATION FOR ADULT LIFE Long-term social outcome for children with CAE is often unsatisfactory even if the epilepsy remits. The reasons are unclear and successful interventions have not been described. Long-term social outcome for JME has not been adequately described. CONCLUSIONS Further research is needed to justify the direction of many of the necessary management decisions in the diagnosis and treatment of IGE syndromes.

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