Idiopathic generalized epilepsies

Carla Marini, Renzo Guerrini

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Definition of the phenotype Idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGEs) are the commonest group of epilepsies in children and adolescents. Based on the main seizure type and their age of onset, the international classification (ILAE 1989) recognizes the following IGE subsyndromes (Table 12.1) Benign neonatal convulsions (BNC) Benign neonatal familial convulsions (BNFC) Benign myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (BMEI) Childhood absence epilepsy (CAE) Juvenile absence epilepsy (JAE) Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) IGE with tonic–clonic seizures alone (IGE–TCS). Other generalized syndromes typical of childhood such as epilepsy with myoclonic–astatic seizures (EMAS) and epilepsy with myoclonic absences (EMA) were considered at the time to be cryptogenic or symptomatic, due to their less favorable outcome and to the presence of cognitive impairment in some patients. Concepts have evolved and at present both EMAS and EMA are recognized as IGE phenotypes (Table 12.1), at least in some patients, while benign neonatal convulsions and benign familial infantile convulsions are no longer considered to be generalized syndromes. In general, IGE syndromes are defined by distinct age at onset, seizure types, and characteristic EEG abnormalities, without structural brain lesions and with normal developmental skills.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Causes of Epilepsy: Common and Uncommon Causes in Adults and Children
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780511921001, 9780521114479
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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