What are the characteristics of neonatal seizures?

Updated: Jul 31, 2019
  • Author: Raj D Sheth, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen L Nelson, Jr, MD, PhD, FAACPDM, FAAN, FAAP  more...
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Most neonatal seizures occur over only a few days, and fewer than half of affected infants develop seizures later in life. Such neonatal seizures can be considered acute reactive (acute symptomatic), and therefore the term neonatal epilepsy is not used to describe neonatal seizures. [2]

Seizures in neonates are relatively common, with variable clinical manifestations. Their presence is often the first sign of neurologic dysfunction, and they are powerful predictors of long-term cognitive and developmental impairment. (See Prognosis.)

Most seizures in the neonate are focal, although generalized seizures have been described in rare instances.

What have been termed "subtle seizures" are more common in full-term than in premature infants. Video electroencephalogram (EEG) studies have demonstrated that most subtle seizures are not associated with electrographic seizures. Examples of subtle seizures include chewing, pedaling, or ocular movements, these movements are thought not be epileptic in nature and more commonly are an epi-phenomena of severe encephalopathy. [3]

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