21. Benign and Malignant Childhood Epilepsies

  1. John W. Miller MD, PhD Director, UW Regional Epilepsy Center, Professor of Neurology and Neurological Surgery2 and
  2. Howard P. Goodkin MD, PhD The Shure Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, Director, Division of Pediatric Neurology3
  1. Katherine C. Nickels and
  2. Elaine C. Wirrell

Published Online: 10 JAN 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781118456989.ch21



How to Cite

Nickels, K. C. and Wirrell, E. C. (2014) Benign and Malignant Childhood Epilepsies, in Epilepsy (eds J. W. Miller and H. P. Goodkin), John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118456989.ch21

Editor Information

  1. 2

    University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

  2. 3

    Department of Neurology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Author Information

  1. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 10 JAN 2014
  2. Published Print: 14 FEB 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118456941

Online ISBN: 9781118456989



  • childhood;
  • epilepsy;
  • electroclinical syndrome;
  • idiopathic generalized epilepsy;
  • antiepileptic drugs;
  • EEG;
  • MRI


Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic neurological diseases of childhood and results from diverse etiologies. Many children with epilepsy will be found to have a specific electroclinical syndrome, which is key for selecting appropriate investigations and therapy and for determining prognosis. Epilepsies that are pharmacoresponsive, not associated with encephalopathy, and often self-limited are thought of as “benign.” Conversely, “malignant” epilepsies are pharmacoresistant, often result in epileptic encephalopathy, and are generally not self-limited. This chapter will review both “benign” and “malignant” epilepsies in children, focusing on epidemiology, clinical manifestations, electroencephalogram (EEG) findings, treatment, and long-term outcome.