IWK Grace Health Centre, PO Box 3070, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3J 3G9
Many children with epilepsy have a relatively benign clinical course with eventual remission of their seizures and no further need for medication. It is not easy to be sure who these children are at the time of diagnosis, but they do not have catastrophic epilepsy. Epilepsy is best defined as two unprovoked seizures. Not all of these children require treatment and treatment is motivated by fear of brain damage, injury, death, kindling of additional seizures, and social consequences. None of these fears provides an absolute indication for treatment. The decision to start medication should be considered on an individual basis. The choice of a first AED is arbitrary with most AEDs having equal efficacy. Follow-up schedules have not been well studied. However, there is fairly convincing evidence that routine blood and urine screening for toxicity is of no benefit, if the child is asymptomatic. Serum drug levels are of little clear benefit. Once the child has been seizure-free for 6 months to 12 months, it is reasonable to consider stopping medication. Only rarely does seizure control fail to return if there are recurrences without medication.