Etiologic and Preventive Aspects of Epilepsy in the Child–Bridging the Gap Between Laboratory and Clinic


Children's Hospital, 300 Longvvood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, U.S.A.


Summary: Four broad categories of basic phenomena are pertinent to developing ways to prevent epilepsy. These include mechanisms of epileptogenesis, ictal initiation and temporary entrainment by the seizure discharge of normally functioning brain, seizure propagation, and control mechanisms that function both to restrain the cascade of epileptic events culminating in a seizure and to arrest the epileptic event and restore the interictal state. In newborns and children, hypoxia-ischemia is a major factor leading to epileptogenesis, and several schemes are proposed to classify, quantify, and prevent hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Control mechanisms must be better understood in order to develop prophylactic recommendations for epilepsy, and an experimental model of “kindling antagonism” may increase our understanding of these. Programs of prevention of seizures in children will evolve only if basic researchers and clinicians work productively together to develop an adequate understanding of factors important in epileptogenesis and antiepileptogenic control mechanisms.