The reasons that seizures during development can be harmful are myriad. The developing brain is highly plastic, and seizures during early development could have pronounced effects on brain development. A wide range of activity-dependent phenomena may be perturbed, including

  • cell division and migration
  • sequential expression of receptors
  • formation and strengthening of synapses
  • myelination

Much of the early work on seizure-induced brain damage concentrated on cell death. Only recently has it been demonstrated that seizures can alter brain development through mechanisms other than necrosis and programmed cell death.

Adapted from: Holmes GL. Childhood-specific epilepsies accompanied by developmental disabilities: Causes and effects. In: Devinsky O and Westbrook LE, eds. Epilepsy and Developmental Disabilities. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann; 2001;23-32. 
With permission from Elsevier ( 

Reviewed By: 
Steven C. Schachter, MD
Saturday, May 1, 2004