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Pediatr Neurol. 2003 Jan;28(1):16-9.

Nitrazepam for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

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  • 1Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York, USA.


Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is a severe childhood epileptic syndrome with encephalopathy and multiple seizure types, which are often intractable to treatment. Most of these children will ultimately become mentally retarded and dependent on others for their daily care. Antiepileptic drugs are the mainstay of treatment, however, no particular drug is entirely effective. Apart from the use of antiepileptic drugs, nonpharmacologic treatments are also considered (i.e., callosotomy, ketogenic diet, and vagus nerve stimulation), which have proven to be partially effective. We prospectively studied 14 children (11 months-8 years of age) with medication-resistant Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, being treated with nitrazepam (open-label compassionate protocol). We compared the 1-month baseline seizure frequency with the median seizure rate reduction during the first 12 months of treatment with nitrazepam. The median seizure rate reduction during the first 12 months of treatment with nitrazepam was 41% (P = 0.001), with more than 50% seizure reduction in 60% of patients. Two patients became seizure free, five patients demonstrated at least 50% reduction in seizure rates, six patients had at least 25% seizure rate reduction, and one patient did not respond. No patient had any serious adverse effects. Side effects included sedation in six children (40%) and drooling in nine patients (60%).

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