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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2020 Jan 22. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002001. [Epub ahead of print]

Out-of-Hospital Seizures in Children: A Population-Based Study.

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From the New Children's Hospital.
Division of Anaesthesiology, Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care and Pain Medicine.
Emergency Medical Services, Department of Emergency Care, Helsinki University Hospital and University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.



Seizures seem to represent a frequent cause for pediatric emergency medical (EM) and emergency room (ER) contacts, but few population-based data are available. Our aim was to study the incidence, prehospital and ER treatment, and outcomes of pediatric seizures necessitating out-of-hospital care.


We studied the out-of-hospital evaluation procedures, ER treatment, diagnostics and 2-year prognosis of all cases of pediatric (0-16 years) seizures encountered by the emergency medical services (EMS) in Helsinki, Finland, in 2012 (population 603,968, pediatric population 92,742); 251 patients were encountered by the EMS, of which 220 seen at the ER.


The yearly incidence of pediatric seizures necessitating EMS activation was 2.8/1000 in the pediatric population. Febrile seizures were responsible for 97 (44.1%) of the cases transported to the ER. Only a minority of patients required advanced life support measures out-of-hospital or complex diagnostics in the ER. Still, of the 220 patients seen at ER, 68 (30.9%) were hospitalized, and 106 (48.2%) had follow-up contacts scheduled.


Pediatric seizures were a common cause for EM and ER contacts. Advanced life support measures were seldom needed, and the prognosis was good, but seizures still required considerable resources. They often resulted in urgent EM dispatch and transport, hospitalization, follow-up visits, new medication, and complementary studies. This emphasizes the role the EMS plays in recognizing and terminating pediatric seizures and in referring these children to appropriate care.

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