For some children, seizures are drug-resistant and associated with intellectual disability*. For some of these children, the intellectual disability is unavoidable because of the underlying brain abnormalities whether or not they have seizures, while in other children the intellectual disability is caused by the seizures themselves. Controlling the seizures may lead to more normal intellectual development. For this reason, every effort should be made to stop seizure in children with catastrophic epilepsies.

The catastrophic epilepsies include:

Otahara syndrome (early infantile epileptic encephalopathy with suppression burst)

Dravet syndrome (severe myoclonic epilepsy in infancy)

Infantile spasms

Lennox-Gastaut syndrome

Doose syndrome (epilepsy with myoclonic-astatic seizures)

Sturge-Weber syndrome (encephalotrigeminal angiomatosis)

Rasmussen’s encephalitis


 Adapted from:

Shields, W. Catastrophic epilepsy in childhood. Epilepsy, 41 (Suppl. 2): S2-S6 (2000).

*Intellectual disability is also known as mental retardation.