Seizures are one of the most common neurologic disorders affecting children. As many as 5% of children experience a seizure during childhood. Although many epilepsies, especially refractory ones, are managed by specialists in pediatric neurology or epilepsy, general pediatricians often are called upon to manage children who have both acute and chronic seizures. Therefore, it is important to understand some of the basic pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying epileptic seizures. This understanding will allow the physician to choose the most appropriate medication for the given seizure type and clinical setting.

Seizures can be a particular challenge to treat. Fortunately, in addition to the armamentarium of anticonvulsant agents previously available, a profusion of new antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) has appeared in the past 5 years. Some of these drugs are designed to address specific pathophysiologic defects in the sequence of events leading to the generation or spread of seizures. The purpose of this article...

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