THURSDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- Children with new-onset
epilepsy of unknown origin have a much higher rate of remission
than those with symptomatic epilepsy, caused by underlying brain
damage or disease.
That's the finding of a new study by researchers in The
Netherlands who evaluated the course and outcome of childhood
epilepsy in 413 children over a 15-year period. The children were
ages 1 month to 16 years (mean age at onset was 5.5 years) when
they were diagnosed with epilepsy. They were followed for five
years and contacted again 10 years later.
By the end of the study, 70.9 percent (293) of the participants
had been in remission for at least five years, while 30 percent
still had active epilepsy that became intractable in one out of 10
of them. The majority of patients in remission had been diagnosed
with epilepsy of unknown origin, also known as idiopathic
Of the patients in remission, 61.9 percent no longer took
antiepileptic drugs and 9 percent still used them. The researchers
concluded that antiepileptic drugs likely have no effect on the
course of epilepsy but merely suppress seizures.
"The long-term prognosis of epilepsy is favorable in the majority of children, especially for those with [epilepsy of unknown origin]. It remains to be seen whether such a course is influenced by the treatment given, since childhood-onset epilepsy is often a benign self-limiting disorder and treatment to be ineffective in those with active epilepsy or intractability," concluded study leader Ada Geerts in a news release.
The study was published online June 14 in the journal
The Epilepsy Foundation has more about
epilepsy in childhood.