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Epilepsy syndromes in children

Angus Wilfong, MD
Section Editor
Douglas R Nordli, Jr, MD
Deputy Editor
Janet L Wilterdink, MD


The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) classification system is used by most epileptologists to categorize seizure types and epilepsy syndromes [1]. This classification system has been revised since its origination in 1981, most recently in 2017 [2-6]. (See "ILAE classification of seizures and epilepsy".)

The ILAE recognizes over twenty epilepsy syndromes, each defined by a distinctive combination of clinical features, signs and symptoms, and electrographic patterns; many of these syndromes begin in childhood (table 1). Epilepsy syndrome classification provides invaluable prognostic, therapeutic, and in the case of familial epilepsies, genetic information [7]. That being said, as an increasing number of genetic mutations have been identified in patients with both inherited and seemingly sporadic epilepsy syndromes, it has become clear that the phenotypic spectrum of various syndromes may be broader than what has been traditionally recognized, and the classification systems will continue to evolve.

This topic will review the clinical features, diagnosis and treatment of some of the more common epilepsy syndromes that begin in infancy and childhood. Neonatal seizures and neonatal epilepsy syndromes are discussed separately. (See "Clinical features, evaluation, and diagnosis of neonatal seizures" and "Etiology and prognosis of neonatal seizures" and "Neonatal epilepsy syndromes" and "Treatment of neonatal seizures".)

Additional topics relevant to the clinical features and diagnosis of seizures and epilepsy in children include the following:

(See "Seizures and epilepsy in children: Classification, etiology, and clinical features".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 28, 2016.
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