Paroxysmal nonepileptic events in infancy, childhood, and adolescence

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There are a wide variety of paroxysmal nonepileptic events (PNEEs) in children that can mimic seizures. The type of PNEEs that need to be considered in the differential diagnosis depends on the age of symptom onset and the clinical features. In infants and toddlers, conditions that are relatively common in clinical practice such as apnea, jitteriness, shuddering attacks, and breath-holding spells may not present much of a diagnostic conundrum, whereas unusual conditions such as hyperekplexia may cause concern. Similarly, although most types of migraine are easily distinguished from seizures in school-aged children, certain variants such as the “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome or basilar migraine can create diagnostic confusion. Most types of PNEE are exclusive to childhood; therefore, the pediatrician must be familiar with a variety of physiological processes and pathological entities that can raise concern in parents. The pediatrician is in the unique position of being able to reassure families and/or guide further work-up. Many of the PNEEs in young children require no treatment and resolve spontaneously. It is important to distinguish these episodes from true seizures as to avoid unnecessary testing and pharmacological treatment. This review highlights common PNEEs in children, beginning with the neonatal age group and moving upward to adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e18-e23
JournalPediatric Annals
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2015


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