Halting Antiseizure Medication Poses No Harm
in Infants

Richard Mark Kirkner

October 28, 2020

Maintaining antiseizure medication in infants who have had acute symptomatic neonatal seizures has been standard practice, but a prospective, observational, comparative effectiveness study calls that practice into question, providing evidence that discontinuing therapy at discharge poses no harm to children and has no effect on the development of epilepsies.

Dr Hannah Glass

"The balance of evidence supports discontinuing antiseizure medication after resolution of acute symptomatic neonatal seizures and before discharge home from the neonatal seizure admission," said Hannah C. Glass, MDCM, MAS, of the University of California, San Francisco, Benioff Children's Hospital, co-principal investigator, who presented results of the study at the 2020 CNS-ICNA Conjoint Meeting, held virtually this year. Renee Shellhaas, MD, MS, clinical associate professor of pediatrics at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, University of Michigan, was the other co-principal investigator.

Dr Renee Shellhaas

"Although other, smaller studies have suggested it is safe to discontinue antiseizure medication after resolution of acute symptomatic seizures, the practice of early discontinuation has been very variable and depends largely on individual provider preference," Glass said in an interview. "In our study, two-thirds of newborns with acute symptomatic seizures were maintained on antiseizure medication at the time of hospital discharge. Thus, a change to early medication discontinuation represents a major shift."

The study evaluated 270 infants at nine centers enrolled in the Neonatal Seizure Registry and born from July 2015 through March 2018. Inclusion criteria were acute symptomatic seizures that occurred at up to 44 weeks postmenstrual age. In this cohort, 36% of patients had antiseizure medication discontinued after a median of 6 days; the remainder stayed on antiseizure medication after discharge at a median of 4 months.

The patients were followed for 2 years. The primary outcome was functional development measured by the Warner Initial Development Evaluation of Adaptive and Functional Skills (WIDEA-FS) assessment. The secondary outcome was epilepsy defined by International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) criteria. Follow-up consisted of phone calls and chart reviews at 12, 18, and 24 months.

"The primary outcome, functional development, was not significantly different between those children who were maintained on antiseizure medication as compared with those who were discontinued," Glass said.

After propensity adjustment, the discontinued ASM group had an estimated WIDEA-FS score 4 points higher on average, she said. "The confidence intervals met our a priori noninferiority limit, indicating no harm to neurodevelopment for discontinuing antiseizure medication before discharge home from the neonatal seizure admission," Glass noted.

The study also found that 13% of all participants developed epilepsy at a median of 8 months. "There was no significant difference in the frequency or timing of epilepsy between the two groups," she said.

"We conclude there is no clear rationale for antiseizure medication maintenance," Glass said. "There is no benefit to neurodevelopment, it prolongs the exposure to potentially harmful antiseizure medications, it does not significantly delay the onset of epilepsy, and the earliest-onset epilepsies occur in spite of antiseizure medication."

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and Pediatric Epilepsy Research Foundation funded the study. Glass has no other financial relationships to disclose.

SOURCE: Glass HC et al. CNS-ICNA 2020. Presentation PL58.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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