Summary: Purpose: To determine prevalence of active epilepsy in school children in a defined area and assess the usefulness of International League Against Epilepsy classification of seizures and epileptic syndromes, with special emphasis on frequency, additional handicaps, and therapeutic problems of severe cases.
Methods: The latest International League Against Epilepsy International Classification of Epileptic Seizures (ICES, 1981) and Epilepsies and Epileptic Syndromes (ICE, 1989) were used for determination of prevalence rates, seizure types, epilepsies and epileptic syndromes, and additional neurological deficits in all 6- to 12-year-old children with epilepsy in a Norwegian county. Children had neuropediatric and EEG examination, intelligence evaluation, and, when necessary, additional investigations.
Results: Prevalence of active epilepsy on January 1, 1995, was 5.1 per 1,000. Main seizure type and epilepsy syndrome could be classified in 98% and 90% of patients, respectively. Seizure types/epileptic syndromes were more often partial/localization related than generalized. Among generalized epilepsies, idiopathic forms were more frequent in girls, and cryp-togenic and symptomatic forms more frequent in boys. Epileptogenic EEG activity was most often generalized or localized to one or two areas of the brain and was never found in 14% of patients. Symptomatic etiology was found in 46% of all children and in 81% of therapy-resistant cases, respectively. Over the years, 11% of children had never used antiepileptic drugs (AED), 62% had tried one or two AEDs, and 26% had tried from three to 15 AEDs. Twenty-five percent of children were without present AED treatment. Complementary/alternative medicine had been tried by 12% of children.
Conclusions: Although most epilepsies could be classified, the number of cases in non-specific categories was relatively high. Symptomatic etiology was frequent, especially in therapy-resistant cases. Multidisciplinary therapeutic and ha-bilitation approaches are often needed in childhood epilepsy.