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J Child Neurol. 2004 Aug;19 Suppl 1:S58-64.

Management of epilepsy in mentally retarded children using the newer antiepileptic drugs, vagus nerve stimulation, and surgery.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Neurology, UCLA Medical Center, 10833 LeConte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1752, USA.


Clusters of seizures, prolonged seizures, and status epilepticus occur more frequently in children with multiple disabilities, and chronic seizures are more likely to be refractory to treatment. In many patients, the seizures appear to contribute to the mental retardation. Thus, if the lives of these children are to improve, seizure control is essential. However, medical treatment can interfere with cognition and cause behavioral disturbances, making life very difficult for the child and the child's family. With the introduction of 10 new antiepileptic drugs in the last decade, the treatment of epilepsy in multiply handicapped children has significantly advanced. These new antiepileptic drugs may improve seizure control, medication tolerance, or both. Although the ultimate therapeutic goal is to keep children seizure free and alert, compromises regarding medication choice and dosage are still necessary in many cases. Novel treatment options, such as the vagus nerve stimulator, may decrease seizure frequency without behavioral or cognitive side effects. In carefully selected children with specific epilepsy syndromes, epilepsy surgery can provide partial or complete relief from seizures.

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