Randomized prospective study of early discontinuation of antiepileptic drugs in children with epilepsy

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Article abstract

We studied recurrence rate, risk factors for recurrence, and outcome after recurrence in children after early withdrawal of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). One hundred sixty-one children with newly diagnosed epilepsy who had become seizure free within 2 months after starting treatment and remained so for 6 months were randomly assigned to immediate withdrawal of AEDs (n = 78) or continuation of treatment for another 6 months followed by withdrawal (n = 83). The probability of remaining seizure free at 24 months after randomization was 51% (95% CI, 40 to 62) in Group A and 52% (41 to 63) in Group B. Significant predictive factors for relapse were partial epilepsy, seizure onset at 12 years or older, defined etiology, and epileptiform EEG before randomization. At the end of follow-up (median, 41.9 months), 129 children (80.6%) had a terminal remission of at least 1 year, 88 without AEDs and 41 with AEDs. No significant difference in outcome was found between Groups A and B. In children with epilepsy and an early response to therapy, AED withdrawal after 6 or 12 months of treatment leads to seizure recurrence in approximately half of all patients regardless of the duration of therapy. More than 60% of those with one or more recurrences reach a terminal remission of at least 1 year after long-term follow-up with or without AEDs.

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