Symptomatology of epileptic seizures in the first three years of life

H. M. Hamer, E. Wyllie, H. O. Lüders, P. Kotagal, J. Acharya

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84 Scopus citations


Purpose: Few data are available concerning symptomatology of epileptic seizures in infants. Methods: We reviewed 296 videotaped seizures from 76 patients aged 1-35 months (mean, 15.1 months) who underwent video-EEG monitoring at our institution from 1988 to 1998. Seizure symptomatology was first classified based on observable behavioral and motor manifestations and then correlated with ictal EEG. Results: Four seizure types accounted for 81% of all seizures seen in this group: epileptic spasms (24%), clonic seizures (20%), tonic seizures (17%), and hypomotor seizures (20%; characterized by arrest or significant decrease of behavioral motor activity with indeterminate level of consciousness). The remaining seizures included small numbers of myoclonic, atonic, and versive seizures. All 12 focal motor seizures and all five versive seizures were associated with focal EEG seizure patterns, seen in the contralateral hemisphere in all but one patient with versive seizures. Generalized motor seizures (clinically generalized at onset) were accompanied either by focal (19 of 51; 37%) or generalized (32 of 51; 63%) EEG seizures. Hypomotor seizures also were associated with focal (14 of 20; 70%) or generalized (six of 20; 30%) EEG seizures. Four patients with generalized epileptic spasms had generalized EEG seizures in the setting of focal epilepsy based on neuroimaging, interictal EEG, and in two cases also on postresection seizure freedom. Seizure types not seen in this age group included auras, seizures with prominent automatisms (except in one case), and classic generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Conclusions: The repertoire of seizure manifestation in the first 3 years of life appears to be limited. In infants, focal motor seizures are reliably associated with focal EEG seizures in the contralateral hemisphere, whereas generalized motor and hypomotor clinical seizures may be either focal or generalized on EEG. Epileptic spasms may be seen in focal as well as generalized epilepsies. Video-EEG monitoring and neuroimaging may be critical for clarifying the focal or generalized nature of the epilepsy in infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-844
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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