Seizures may be responsible for some sudden deaths in children, study finds


In a examine designed to raised perceive sudden, sudden deaths in younger youngsters, which often happen throughout sleep, researchers have recognized temporary seizures, accompanied by muscle convulsions, as a possible trigger.

Consultants estimate in extra of three,000 households annually in the USA lose a child or younger youngster unexpectedly and with out rationalization. Most are infants in what’s known as sudden toddler dying syndrome, or SIDS, however 400 or extra instances contain youngsters aged 1 and older, and in what known as sudden unexplained dying in youngsters (SUDC). Over half of those youngsters are toddlers.

The examine findings come from a registry of greater than 300 SUDC instances, arrange a decade in the past by researchers at NYU Grossman Faculty of Medication. Researchers used in depth medical file evaluation and video proof donated by households to doc the inexplicable deaths of seven toddlers between the ages of 1 and three that had been probably attributable to seizures. These seizures lasted lower than 60 seconds and occurred inside half-hour instantly prior to every kid’s dying, say the examine authors.

For many years, researchers have sought an evidence to sudden dying occasions in youngsters, noticing a hyperlink between these with a historical past of febrile seizures (seizures accompanied by fever). Earlier analysis had reported that youngsters who died all of the sudden and unexpectedly had been 10 occasions extra prone to have had febrile seizures than youngsters who didn’t die all of the sudden and unexpectedly. Febrile seizures are additionally famous in one-third of SUDC instances registered at NYU Langone Well being.

Publishing within the journal Neurology on-line Jan. 4, the brand new examine concerned an evaluation by a group of eight physicians of the uncommon SUDC instances for which there have been additionally house video recordings, from both safety techniques or business crib cameras, made whereas every youngster was sleeping on the night time or afternoon of their dying.

5 of seven recordings had been operating nonstop on the time and confirmed direct sound and visual movement indicative of a seizure taking place. The remaining two recordings had been triggered by sound or movement, however just one instructed {that a} muscle convulsion, an indication of seizure, had occurred. As properly, just one toddler had a documented earlier historical past of febrile seizures. All youngsters within the examine had beforehand undergone an post-mortem that exposed no definitive explanation for dying.

Our examine, though small, presents the primary direct proof that seizures could also be liable for some sudden deaths in youngsters, that are often unwitnessed throughout sleep.”

Laura Gould, examine lead investigator, analysis assistant professor at NYU Langone

Gould misplaced her daughter, Maria, to SUDC on the age of 15 months in 1997, a tragedy that prompted her profitable foyer for institution of the NYU SUDC Registry and Analysis Collaborative. Gould factors out that if not for the video proof, the dying investigations wouldn’t have implicated a seizure.

“These examine findings present that seizures are rather more frequent than sufferers’ medical histories counsel, and that additional analysis is required to find out if seizures are frequent occurrences in sleep-related deaths in toddlers, and probably in infants, older youngsters, and adults,” stated examine senior investigator and neurologist Orrin Devinsky, MD.

Devinsky, a professor within the Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry at NYU Langone, in addition to chief of its epilepsy service, provides that “convulsive seizures will be the ‘smoking gun’ that medical science has been searching for to grasp why these youngsters die.

“Learning this phenomenon might also present vital perception into many different deaths, together with these from SIDS and epilepsy,” stated Devinsky, who cofounded the SUDC Registry and Analysis Collaborative at NYU Langone with Gould.

Additional analysis, Devinsky notes, can also be wanted to find out exactly how seizures with or with out fever might induce sudden dying. Earlier analysis in epilepsy sufferers, he says, factors to problem respiratory that’s recognized to happen instantly after a seizure and that may result in dying. This has been discovered to occur extra regularly in epilepsy sufferers, because it does within the youngsters concerned within the examine, whereas they’re sleeping face down on the abdomen and with out anybody witnessing the dying.

Steady monitoring of kid deaths and enhancements in well being information to trace how usually these convulsive seizures precede dying, he explains, can be wanted for this to be confirmed. Seizure-related deaths are underreported in individuals with and with out epilepsy.

For the examine, specialists in forensic pathology, neurology, and sleep drugs analyzed every recording for video high quality, sound, and movement. From this, they had been in a position to decide which toddlers confirmed indicators of muscle convulsions as an indication of seizures previous to their dying and when. Entry to the movies was and stays strictly restricted to the researchers concerned within the examine.

Funding assist for this examine was offered by SUDC UK, FACES at NYU Langone Well being, and the SUDC Basis. Extra funding assist was offered by the Nationwide Heart for Advancing Translational Sciences and Nationwide Institutes of Well being grant UL1TR001445.

Moreover Gould and Devinsky, different NYU Langone researchers concerned on this examine are Codi-Ann Reid, BS; and Alcibiades Rodriguez, MD. Co-investigators of the SUDC video examine group are Alison Krywanczyk, MD, on the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Workplace in Cleveland; Kristen Landi, MD, on the New York Metropolis Workplace of the Chief Medical Examiner; Melissa Guzzetta, DO, on the Workplace of the County Medical Examiner in Middlesex, N.J.; Heather Jarrell, MD, on the Workplace of the Medical Investigator, College of New Mexico, in Albuquerque; Kelly Lear, MD, on the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Workplace in Centennial, Colo.; Tara Mahar, MD, and Katherine Maloney, MD, on the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Workplace in Buffalo, N.Y.; Declan McGuone, MBBCh, at Yale College in New Haven, Conn.; Alex Williamson, MD, at Zucker Faculty of Medication at Hofstra/Northwell in Hempstead, NY; Katheryn Pinneri, MD, on the Montgomery County Forensic Service in Conroe, Texas; and Victoria Delavale, MPH, and Daniel Friedman, MD, at NYU Grossman Faculty of Medication.


Journal reference:

Gould, L., et al. (2024) Video Analyses of Sudden Unexplained Deaths in Toddlers. Neurology.

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