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New guideline to help diagnose causes of status epilepticus

21 December, 2006

A new guideline developed by the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society
aims to help doctors diagnose the causes of status epilepticus, a state
of continuous seizures, in children, many of whom have epilepsy. The
guideline is published in the November issue of Neurology, the
scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The
guideline recommends doctors consider anti-epileptic drug (AED) levels
when a child with treated epilepsy develops status epilepticus.

"If
a child with epilepsy has continuous seizures, it is possible that AED
levels are low, because of inadequate dosing, non-compliance or
withdrawal of the AED," said lead author Dr. James Riviello from the Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology and Child Neurology Society.

"Data
show low AED levels in 32 per cent of children who develop status
epilepticus, but this may not necessarily have caused the status
epilepticus."

The
guideline also recommends an that EEG (electroencephalogram), a test of
electrical activity of the brain, should be considered in a child with
status epilepticus.

"An EEG may be helpful in determining whether there are generalised or
focal abnormalities or when there is suspicion that the continuous
seizures are non-epileptic," said Riviello.