Neonatal seizures: When semiology points to etiology

Marta Elena Santarone, Nicola Pietrafusa, Lucia Fusco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim of our study was to evaluate the relationship between seizure semiology and etiological factors in our population of neonates, in pointing out that specific kinds of clinical presentation are strictly related to specific etiologies. Methods: We selected neonates which presented clinical seizures during video-EEG monitoring performed in Neonatal and Neurological Units between 2010 and 2017. We excluded patients with electrographic seizures only or video-EEGs of poor quality. Seizures were divided into the main subgroups “motor” (focal clonic, focal tonic and myoclonic) and “non motor”. For each patient we evaluated etiology, considering two major categories: acute and remote symptomatic. Results: The study included 65 patients, including 44 with an acute symptomatic cause and 21 with remote symptomatic etiology. Focal motor clonic seizures were almost exclusively associated to acute symptomatic etiology (p < 0.05), mainly to stroke and infective causes. Focal motor tonic seizures were the prevalent type of seizures in remote symptomatic etiologies (p < 0.05). They were observed mainly in patients with Developmental Epileptic Encephalopathy. Focal non motor seizures were more represented in acute symptomatic causes (p = 0.01) and were the main type of seizure in HIE. Conclusions: Seizure semiology in neonates may help physicians in the early recognition of specific etiologies. In particular, focal clonic seizures are strongly suggestive of acute symptomatic causes, allowing an early diagnosis and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-165
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Epilepsy
  • Epilepsy syndromes
  • ILAE classification
  • Neonatal seizures
  • Neonates
  • Seizure semiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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