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Panayiotopoulos syndrome

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 25 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1228

A common benign but underdiagnosed and unexplored early childhood seizure syndrome

  1. Michael Koutroumanidis, senior lecturer in neurology (
  1. Guy's, King's and St Thomas's School of Medicine, Denmark Hill Campus, London SE5 9RS

    Epilepsy affects 1% of the general population and 4% of children, encompassing heterogeneous seizure syndromes.1 These are defined by distinct aetiology, age at onset, seizure type, and electroencephalographic features, which taken together provide the key to diagnosis, prognosis, and optimal management. Over the past two decades various distinct paediatric epilepsy syndromes, such as rolandic epilepsy, have been formally recognised.2 Panayiotopoulos syndrome is a new idiopathic childhood epilepsy, recently recognised by the International League Against Epilepsy.2 3 It is common, benign, and may mimic other common illnesses.

    Awareness of this syndrome is important for all professionals who care for children with epileptic seizures, including general practitioners and community nurses, paediatricians and paediatric neurologists and clinical neurophysiologists, for the following reasons. Firstly, it is common. It probably affects about 13% of children of 3-6 years old with one or more non-febrile seizures (peak age 4-5 years), and 6% of the age group 1-15.4 5 Secondly, seizures can be prolonged, may mimic non-epileptic disorders, and may vary in severity from trivial to apparently life threatening—implying that the diagnosis may need to be considered in a variety of clinical settings and by medical professionals of different specialties. Thirdly, it is benign—its recognition therefore can provide firm reassurance to families in situations that …

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