In a prospective study, 283 children who presented with a first unprovoked seizure were followed for a mean of 30 months from the time of first seizure. Subsequent seizures were experienced by 101 children (36%). The cumulative risk of seizure recurrence for the entire study group was 26% at 12 months, 36% at 24 months, 40% at 36 months, and 42% at 48 months. The cumulative risk of recurrence in the 47 children with a remote symptomatic first seizure was 37%, 53%, and 60% at 12, 24, and 36 months, respectively, compared with a cumulative risk of 24%, 33%, and 36% at 12, 24, and 36 months, respectively, in the 236 children who had had an idiopathic first seizure (P < .01). In children with an idiopathic first seizure, the electroencephalogram was the most important predictor of recurrence. The cumulative risk of recurrence in the 81 children with abnormal electroencephalograms was 41%, 54%, and 56% at 12, 24, and 36 months, respectively, but only 15%, 23%, and 26% at 12, 24, and 36 months, respectively, in the 138 children with normal electroencephalograms (P < .001). A history of epilepsy in a first-degree relative was a significant risk factor only in idiopathic cases with abnormal electroen-cephalograms. In children with a remote symptomatic first seizure, either a history of prior febrile seizures or the occurrence of a partial seizure were significant predictors of recurrence. Age at first seizure and duration of seizure did not affect recurrence risk in either the idiopathic or remote symptomatic group. A total of 84% of the children were not treated with antiepileptic drugs or were treated for less than 2 weeks. Only 9% were treated for longer than 3 months. Treatment did not affect the risk of recurrence. The results suggest that, even without treatment, the majority of children with a first unprovoked seizure will not experience a recurrence. Children with an idiopathic first seizure and a normal electroen-cephalogram have a particularly favorable prognosis.
- Received July 20, 1989.
- Accepted August 29, 1989.
- Copyright © 1990 by the American Academy of Pediatrics