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PHM142 Fall 2012 Instructor: Dr. Jeffrey Henderson. Pediatric Epilepsy. Ashley Masse Arif Mohamed Rosalie Nguyen Yusuf Majumder. What is Epilepsy?. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder change in normal brain function. Epilepsy is not generally an inherited disease.

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pediatric epilepsy

PHM142 Fall 2012

Instructor: Dr. Jeffrey Henderson

Pediatric Epilepsy

Ashley Masse

Arif Mohamed

Rosalie Nguyen

Yusuf Majumder

what is epilepsy
What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder change in normal brain function.

Epilepsy is not generally an inherited disease.

Typically characterized by seizures.

About 0.6% of the Canadian population has Epilepsy.

types of epilepsy classifications
Types of Epilepsy/ Classifications

There are two major types of epilepsy

Idiopathic Epilepsy- no known cause

Secondary/Somatic Epilepsy- the cause is attributed to a specific event (such as genetic conditions, hitting ones head, or stroke).

Epilepsy is further classified by the type of seizure the person experiences.

Types include: generalized tonic-clonic, absence, myoclonic, and partial.

who does it affect
Who Does it Affect?
  • It is estimated that there are 15,500 new cases of epilepsy diagnosed each year in Canada.
  • 44% are diagnosed before the age of 5.
  • 55% before the age of 10.
  • 75-85% before age 18.
childhood epilepsy
Childhood Epilepsy

About 50% of children “grow out” of the disorder and experience a complete disappearance of seizures.

Some of those who continue to have seizures into adulthood often notice a decrease in intensity and frequency.

epilepsy syndromes by age of onset
Epilepsy Syndromes By Age of Onset

Neonatal period

    • Rare idiopathic syndrome often generalized
    • Genetic based idiopathic syndrome
    • Rare, but severe encephalopathic form with symptomatic root
epilepsy syndromes by age of onset1
Epilepsy Syndromes By Age of Onset
  • Infancy
    • symptomatic, cryptogenic (nonidentifiable hidden cause)
    • Between 4 and 7 month
    • Rare, idiopathic generalized
    • Between the ages of 6 months and 3 years
    • Rare, symptomatic
    • Cases with mutations in the SCN1A gene
epilepsy syndromes by age of onset2
Epilepsy Syndromes By Age of Onset
  • Childhood
    • Most common idiopathic epilepsy syndrome, representing 24% of epilepsy cases among school age children
    • Onset is 2nd to 6th year of life
    • accompanied by developmental delay and psychological and behavioral problems
    • Peak onset between the ages of 3 and 7 years
    • Two-thirds of affected children are male
underlying causes of pediatric epilepsy
Underlying Causes of Pediatric Epilepsy
  • 1) Abnormalities in the glial cells (Glial cells and the blood-brain barrier are still developing).
  • 2) Differences in the activity of ion channels as well as the release of neurotransmitters (Glutamate and GABA).
  • 3) Role of structural anomalies (Lesions)
  • 4) Genetic predisposition (Monogenic channelopathies)
  • 5) Exposure to epileptogenic stimuli (fever, infection or hypoxia during development)
description of epilepsy in general
Description of epilepsy in general
  • Primarily affects the cerebral cortex.
  • In all cases, epilepsy can be described as “abnormal hypersynchronous electrical activity” due to an imbalance between excitation and inhibition.
  • The main characteristic of epileptic neurons is their increase in excitability, which leads to excessive discharges.
neurotransmitters gaba
Neurotransmitters- GABA
  • Can be inhibitory or excitatory depending on the neurotransmitter and the receptor that it binds.
  • Main inhibitory- GABA= Opening of chloride channels (GABA A receptor) or reduction in amount of neurotransmitter released and opening of potassium channels (GABA B receptor).
  • Reduction in GABA inhibition either by:
    • Decrease in GABA (neurotrasmitter) release.
    • GABA receptors can no longer respond to GABA.
    • Changes in ionic gradient due to “intracellular accumulation of chloride ions”.
overview of the mechanisms of epilepsy paroxysmal depolarizing shift pds spreading and termination
Overview of the Mechanisms of Epilepsy-Paroxysmal Depolarizing Shift (PDS), Spreading and Termination
  • PDS is composed of two components:

* Slow component:

  • Long lasting, and sustained depolarization

* Rapid component:

- Additional rapid and sharp depolarizations.

  • Spreading of seizures possible due to more activation and/or loss of inhibition leading to:

-The extracellular potassium level is increased, and thus it is more difficult for potassium to leave the cell.

-The net current will be inward leading to depolarization that will occur to the extent that calcium currents will “be triggered”, so more neurotransmitter released.

- Activation of NMDA receptors by glutamate.

  • Termination

- Inactivation of the inward current.

- Activation of the potassium outward current.

- Increase in chloride current into the cell.

diagnostic tests
Diagnostic Tests
  • Several tests can be performed to diagnose a patient following a seizure.
    • EEG: to verify that person had a seizure and to determine if seizures are partial or general. (Looks at changes in electrical patterns).
    • MRI or CT scan: these methods are used to rule out other abnormalities that may cause seizures (such as a tumor).
    • Blood tests may also be ordered to rule out other disorders or infections
treatment of pediatric epilepsy
Treatment of Pediatric Epilepsy

Anti-epileptic medication


Changes in diet

treatment of pediatric epilepsy2
Treatment of Pediatric Epilepsy

Surgery: for refractory (intractable) epilepsy

Corpus callosotomy: sectioning of the corpus callosum to prevent and block spread of epileptic discharges interhemispherically

Can be partial or complete

treatment of pediatric epilepsy3
Treatment of Pediatric Epilepsy

Ketogenic diet: high fat, low carbohydrate diet

Used to treat difficult-to-control, intractable epilespy


Bromfield, E.B., Cavaazos, J.E., & Siven JI. (2006). An Introduction to Epilepsy. West Hartford: American Epilepsy Society.

Czuczwar, S. J., & Patsalos, P. N. (2001). The new generation of GABA enhancers: potential in treatment of epilespy. CNS Drugs, 15(5), 339-350.

Freeman, J. M., Vining, E. P. G., Pillas, D. J., Pyzik, P. L., Casey, J. C., & Kelly, M. T. (1998). The efficacy of the ketogenic diet – 1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention of 150 children. Pediatrics, 102(6), 1358-1363.

Kim, D. Y., & Rho, J. M. (2008). The ketogenic diet and epilespy. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 11, 113-120.

Meldrum, B. S. (1996). Update on the mechanism of action of antiepileptic drugs. Epilepsia, 37, S4-S11.

Wong, T., Kwan, S., Chang, K., Hsiu-Mei, W., Yang, T., Chen, Y., & Yi-Yen, L. (2006). Corpus callosotomy in children. Child’s Nervous System, 22, 99-1011.

World Health Organization. (October 2012). Fact Sheet N999. In Epilepsy. Retrieved November 25, 2012, from

Epilepsy Canada. (2012). Living with Epilepsy, Facts, Epidemiology, & Diagnosis and Treatment. In Epilepsy Canada. Retrieved November 25, 2012, from


Badawy, R. A. B., Harvey, A. S., & Macdonell, R. A. L. (2009). Cortical hyperexcitability and epileptogenesis: Understanding the mechanisms of epilepsy - part 1. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 16(3), 355-365. Retrieved from

Badawy, R. A. B., Harvey, A. S., & Macdonell, R. A. L. (2009). Cortical hyperexcitability and epileptogenesis: Understanding the mechanisms of epilepsy - part 2. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 16(4), 485-500. Retrieved from

Pellock, J.M. et al. (2008). Pediatric Epilepsy. New York: Demos Medical Publishing.

Blume W. T. (2003). Diagnosis and management of epilepsy. CMAJ, 168: 441-448

Canadian Pharmacists Association. (2012). , Seizures and Epilepsy, Therapeutic Choices. (pp 292-301) Webcom, Toronto, ON.

Deivasumathy Muthugovindan, and Adam L. Hartman. (2010). Pediatric Epilepsy Syndromes. The Neurologist, 16: 223-237.

David R. Fish, Shelagh J. Smith, Luis F. Quesney, Frederick Andermann, Theodore Rasmussen ( 2005). Surgical Treatment of Children with Medically Intractable Frontal or Temporal Lobe Epilepsy: Results and Highlights of 40 Years' Experience. Epilepsia, 34: 244-247.


There are different types of epilepsy common in different stages of childhood.

Epilepsy can be described as “abnormal hypersynchronous electrical activity” due to an imbalance between excitation and inhibition.

 Paroxysmal depolarising shift leads to sustained and repetitive or burst firing.  During seizures, 1) It is more difficult for potassium to move outwards 2) Calcium accumulates, so more neurotransmitter is released 3) Activation of NMDA by glutamate. Terminated with chloride entering, potassium leaving or inactivation of inward current.

 GABA is a neurotransmitter that regulates inhibition, therefore a reduction in GABA leads to less control.

Pediatric epilepsy can be treated with Na+ channel blockers (carbamazepine, phenytoin), GABA receptor agonist (phenobarbital), Ca++ channel blockers (ethosuximide) to prevent frequent firing of neurons.

Intractable pediatric epilepsy may be treated with corpus callosotomy or with ketogenic diet.