To determine the common precipitating factors for breakthrough seizures in children with epilepsy.
This retrospective study reviewed the charts of children with epilepsy who were followed up in the pediatric neurology clinic of King Fahad Hospital in Al-Baha region, Saudi Arabia, between January 2015 and August 2022. Children between 1 to 14 years of age who had epilepsy, as per the International League Against Epilepsy definition and received anti-seizure medication with a seizure-free period of at least 2 months before breakthrough seizure episode, were included in the study.
Of the 108 children included in the study, the mean age was 6.8±1.6 years, and among them (55.5%) were male. Most parents (69.5%) were unaware of the triggering factors of seizure. The majority of patients (88%) reported at least one precipitating factor for breakthrough seizures and the most common one was systemic infection associated with fever (52.8%), and then non-compliance to medications in (34.3%) of the patients. In terms of the electroencephalogram, around 84 patients (77.8%) had abnormal electroencephalogram. Finally, monotherapy was maintained in 63.9% of patients.
We conclude that the most common trigger for breakthrough seizure is a systemic infection associated with fever and non-compliance to anti-seizure medications. Increasing the level of awareness by different methods may help limit or even prevent seizures from occurring. Randomized controlled trials could shed light on the adjustment of anti-seizure medications temporarily by increasing the dosage or giving extra doses during the infection to avoid breakthrough seizures.