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Antecedents of epilepsy and seizures among children born at extremely low gestational age



To identify specific risk factors for epilepsy for individuals born extremely preterm.

Study Design

In a prospective cohort study, at 10-year follow-up, children were classified as having epilepsy or seizures not associated with epilepsy. We evaluated for association of perinatal factors using time-oriented, multinomial logistic regression models.


Of the 888 children included in the study, 66 had epilepsy and 39 had seizures not associated with epilepsy. Epilepsy was associated with an indicator of low socioeconomic status, maternal gestational fever, early physiologic instability, postnatal exposure to hydrocortisone, cerebral white matter disease and severe bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Seizure without epilepsy was associated with indicators of placental infection and inflammation, and hypoxemia during the first 24 postnatal hours.


In children born extremely preterm, epilepsy and seizures not associated with epilepsy have different risk profiles. Though both profiles included indicators of infection and inflammation, the profile of risk factors for epilepsy included multiple indicators of endogenous vulnerability.

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We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of their subjects, and their subjects’ families, as well as those of their colleagues. Participating institutions (site principal investigator and colleagues): Baystate Medical Center, Springfield MA (Rachana Singh, Bhavesh Shah, Debby Klein); Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston MA (Camilia R. Martin, Colleen Hallisey, Caitlin Hurley, Miren Creixell); Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston MA (Linda J. Van Marter); Children’s Hospital, Boston MA (Alan Leviton, Kathleen Lee, Anne McGovern, Elizabeth Allred, Jill Gambardella, Susan Ursprung, Ruth Blomquist); Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston MA (Robert Insoft, Jennifer G. Wilson, Maureen Pimental); New England Medical Center, Boston MA (Cynthia Cole, John Fiascone, Janet Madden, Ellen Nylen, Anne Furey); U Mass Memorial Health Center, Worcester, MA (Francis Bednarek[deceased], Mary Naples, Beth Powers); Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven CT (Richard Ehrenkranz [deceased], Joanne Williams, Elaine Romano); Forsyth Hospital, Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem NC (T. Michael O’Shea, Debbie Gordon, Teresa Harold, Gail Hounsell, Debbie Hiatt); University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina, Greenville NC (Stephen Engelke, Sherry Moseley, Linda Pare, Donna Smart, Joan Wilson); North Carolina Children’s Hospital, Chapel Hill NC (Carl Bose, Gennie Bose, Janice Wereszczak); DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand Rapids MI (Mariel Portenga, Dinah Sutton); Sparrow Hospital, Lansing MI (Padmani Karna, Carolyn Solomon); University of Chicago Hospital, Chicago IL (Michael D. Schreiber, Grace Yoon); William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak MI (Daniel Batton, Beth Kring).


This study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (5U01NS040069–05; 2R01NS040069 − 06A2), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (5P30HD018655–34), and the Office of the National Institutes of Health Director (1UG3OD023348–01).

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Correspondence to Rachana Singh.

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Singh, R., Douglass, L.M., O’Shea, T.M. et al. Antecedents of epilepsy and seizures among children born at extremely low gestational age. J Perinatol 39, 774–783 (2019).

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