Neonatal seizures are the most common neurological event in newborns, showing higher prevalence in preterm than in full-term infants. In the majority of cases they represent acute symptomatic phenomena, the main etiologies being intraventricular haemorrhage, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, central nervous system infections and transient metabolic derangements.Current definition of neonatal seizures requires detection of paroxysmal EEG-changes, and in preterm newborns the incidence of electrographic-only seizures seems to be particularly high, further stressing the crucial role of electroencephalogram monitoring in this population. Imaging work-up includes an integration of serial cranial ultrasound and brain magnetic resonance at term-equivalent age. Unfavourable outcomes following seizures in preterm infants include death, neurodevelopmental impairment, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hearing and visual impairment. As experimental evidence suggests a detrimental role of seizures per se in determining subsequent outcome, they should be promptly treated with the aim to reduce seizure burden and long-term disabilities. However, neonatal seizures show low response to conventional anticonvulsant drugs, and this is even more evident in preterm newborns, due to intrinsic developmental factors. As a consequence, as literature does not provide any specific guidelines, due to the lack of robust evidence, off-label medications are often administered in clinical practice.
Spagnoli, C., Falsaperla, R., Deolmi, M., Corsello, G., & Pisani, F. (2018). Symptomatic seizures in preterm newborns: a review on clinical features and prognosis. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 44(1), 115. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13052-018-0573-y