Sudden unexplained death in children with epilepsy: A cohort study with an eighteen-year follow-up

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Weber P, Bubl R, Blauenstein U, Tillmann BU, and Lütschg J (2005) Sudden unexplained death in children with epilepsy: A cohort study with an eighteen-year follow-up. Acta Paediatr 94:5 564–7.

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Abstract: AIM: Sudden unexplained death is a significant cause of mortality in adults with epilepsy. Only a few data exist about this risk in childhood. METHODS: Cases of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP) up to the age of 18 y occurring at our hospital between 1984 and 2001 were identified. The incidence rate was calculated on the basis of diagnosed epileptics registered with a statutory disability insurance scheme. RESULTS: Four cases of SUDEP were identified during the 18-y period. The incidence of SUDEP was 4.3 per 10,000 patient-years. All children showed polytherapy-refractory epilepsy, developmental retardation and early-onset epilepsy. Two witnessed cases had shown no previous signs of seizure. CONCLUSION: SUDEP is rare in childhood. Children with uncomplicated epilepsy seem not to be at risk.

Context

  • Retrospective study of deaths in patients less than 19 years old at one hospital identified 4 cases of SUDEP over an 18 year period. All 4 suffered from refractory epilepsy that began at an early age. These data are consistent with low risk of SUDEP in childhood. Of note, 2 cases were witnessed and had not shown recent evidence of seizure.

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