Sleep state and the risk of seizure recurrence following a first unprovoked seizure in childhood

Shlomo Shinnar, Anne T. Berg, Yael Ptachewich, Marta Alemany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In a prospective study, we have followed 347 children identified at the time of a first unprovoked seizure for a mean of 46 months. To date, 135 (39%) have experienced a seizure recurrence. In this study, we analyzed recurrence risk as a function of whether the child was asleep or awake at the time of the first seizure. The cumulative recurrence risks for children whose first seizure occurred in sleep was 28% at 0.5 years, 39% at 1 year, 53% at 2 years, and 55% at 4 years, compared with recurrence risks of 18%, 23%, 30%, and 35% at the same intervals in children whose first seizure occurred while awake (p < 0.001). The association of a first seizure during sleep with an increased recurrence risk was present primarily in children with idiopathic seizures. It occurred in both those with a normal and an abnormal EEG. On multivariable analysis, sleep state, etiology, and the EEG were statistically significant predictors of recurrence risk. In children who experienced a seizure recurrence, the recurrences occurred in the same sleep state in 73% of the cases (p < 0.0001). This was also true of subsequent recurrences. We conclude that the occurrence of a first seizure in sleep is associated with an increased risk of recurrence. Subsequent seizures, if they do occur, usually occur in the same sleep state as the initial seizure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-706
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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