Infantile epileptic syndromes and metabolic etiologies

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Inherited metabolic disorders can cause onset of epilepsy in the first year of life. Epilepsy rarely dominates the clinical presentation, which is more frequently associated with other neurologic symptoms, such as mental retardation, hypotonia and/or dystonia, or vigilance disturbances. The pathogenesis of seizures is multifaceted; inherited metabolic disorder can affect the balance between excitatory and inhibitory chemical mediators, eliminate an energetic substrate at the cerebral level, cause in utero brain malformation, or provoke acute brain lesions. Some clinical disorders that strongly suggest particular metabolic etiologies can be identified. For example, specific clinical signs and findings on electroencephalogram (EEG) are characteristic of pyridoxine-dependent seizures, and inherited metabolic disorders associated with early myoclonic encephalopathy are well defined. In most cases, however, epilepsy secondary to inherited metabolic disorders presents with polymorphic clinical and EEG features that are difficult to classify into precise epileptic syndromes. Common characteristics of these seizures include onset in the first months of life; usually partial, multifocal; simple partial motor semiology; successive appearance of tonic seizures, spasms, and massive myoclonus; and resistance to antiepilepsy drugs. Inherited metabolic disorders must be considered in patients presenting with epilepsy and progressive neurologic worsening.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Child Neurology
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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