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J Child Neurol. 1999 Dec;14(12):820-1.

Phenobarbital still has a role in epilepsy treatment.

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Pediatric Neurology Unit, Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, Israel.


Phenobarbital, the oldest of the currently available antiepileptic drugs, has lost its popularity in this era of multiple new drugs and is seldom used after infancy in developed countries. We report a group of patients with generalized epilepsy in whom phenobarbital proved to be the drug of choice. Phenobarbital monotherapy was given to 20 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy beginning in childhood but persisting into adulthood. All the patients have normal intelligence and neurologic status. The electroencephalogram has either been normal or showed generalized spike-wave discharges. All patients' seizures are fully controlled on once-a-day low-dose phenobarbital with no side effects. Attempts to discontinue the medication have led to recurrence of seizures. We believe that in patients with mild generalized tonic-clonic seizures phenobarbital could still be the drug of choice since it is cheap, safe, convenient, and effective.

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