Cochrane Summaries

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Ethosuximide, sodium valproate or lamotrigine for absence seizures in children and adolescents

Posner EB, Mohamed KK, Marson AG
Published Online: 
17 March 2010

Not enough evidence to show which drugs are best for treating seizures in children and adolescents with absence epilepsy

Epilepsy is a disorder where seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges from the brain. Absence epilepsy involves seizures that cause a sudden loss of awareness. It often starts in childhood or adolescence. Three antiepileptic drugs are often used for absence epilepsy: valproate; ethosuximide and lamotrigine. Valproate can lead to weight gain, and may cause fetal abnormalities. The review found some evidence that individuals taking lamotrigine are more likely to be seizure free than those using placebos. No difference in effectiveness has been found between valproate and ethosuximide, but more research is needed.