Epilepsy After Resolution of Presumed Childhood Encephalitis

Neggy Rismanchi, Jeffrey J. Gold, Shifteh Sattar, Carol A. Glaser, Heather Sheriff, James Proudfoot, Andrew Mower, John R. Crawford, Mark Nespeca, Sonya G. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Abstract Objective To evaluate factors associated with the development of epilepsy after resolution of presumed childhood encephalitis. Methods A total of 217 patients with suspected encephalitis who met criteria for the California Encephalitis Project were identified. Evaluable outcome information was available for 99 patients (40 girls, 59 boys, ages 2 months to 17 years) without preexisting neurological conditions, including prior seizures or abnormal brain magnetic resonance imaging scans. We identified factors correlated with the development of epilepsy after resolution of the acute illness. Results Development of epilepsy was correlated with the initial presenting sign of seizure (P < 0.001). With each additional antiepileptic drug used to control seizures, the odds ratio of developing epilepsy was increased twofold (P < 0.001). An abnormal electroencephalograph (P < 0.05) and longer hospital duration (median of 8 versus 21 days) also correlated with development of epilepsy (P < 0.01). The need for medically induced coma was associated with epilepsy (P < 0.001). Seizures in those patients were particularly refractory, often requiring longer than 24 hours to obtain seizure control. Individuals who required antiepileptic drugs at discharge (P < 0.001) or were readmitted after their acute illness (P < 0.001) were more likely to develop epilepsy. Of our patients who were able to wean antiepileptic drugs after being started during hospitalization, 42% were successfully tapered off within 6 months. Conclusions Limited data are available on the risk of developing epilepsy after childhood encephalitis. This is the first study that not only identifies risk factors for the development of epilepsy, but also provides data regarding the success rate of discontinuing antiepileptic medication after resolution of encephalitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8629
Pages (from-to)65-72
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was partially supported by the National Institutes of Health , Grant UL1TR000100 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Epilepsy
  • childhood
  • encephalitis
  • seizures


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