The long-term effect of early-life seizures on later seizure-induced neuronal damage and behavior was investigated in the laboratory using systemic kainate to induce seizures in rats at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Memory was tested using a Morris water maze, and brains were examined histologically for evidence of injury. Seizures induced during the second week of life (15 days) were not associated with brain injury or cell death, but they predisposed animals to extensive neuronal injury and impairment of learning when seizures were again induced in adulthood (45 days). [1]

COMMENT. These laboratory studies confirm previously reported evidence that seizures in young experimental animals can be followed by delayed brain growth, and lowered seizure thresholds. [2]. The studies argue in favor of aggressive treatment of uncontrolled recurrent seizures, but the use of antiepileptic drugs to prevent epilepsy in children having single or infrequent febrile or afebrile seizures remains controversial. Most authorities do not recommend long-term continuous AEDs for prevention of febrile seizures. Each child is an individual, the decision to start AEDs depending on the cause, severity, associated psycho-neurological findings, and likely prognosis of the seizure disorder, and the potential toxicity of the medication. (see Progress in Pediatric Neurology I, 199l;pp 18-21). In adults, early treatment of a single seizure has been shown to prevent recurrence. (see Progress in Pediatric Neurology III, 1997;pp112-113).