Seizures and status epilepticus in childhood cerebral malaria.
Crawley J., Smith S., Kirkham F., Muthinji P., Waruiru C., Marsh K.
Prolonged, multiple seizures complicate a high proportion of cases of childhood cerebral malaria, and several studies have shown an association between these and neurological sequelae. We prospectively studied 65 patients (38 female) admitted to Kilifi Hospital in 1994. Electroencephalographic recordings (EEGs) were made at 12-hourly intervals, with continuous recordings made on a cerebral function analysing monitor (CFAM). Survivors were seen one month after discharge. Cerebral computerized tomography was performed on children with neurological sequelae. Sixty-two percent of patients had seizures following admission, of whom half had an episode of status epilepticus. Fifty-two percent of seizures were partial motor, 34% generalized tonic-clonic, and 14% partial with secondary generalization. In 22%, coma appeared to be due to a prolonged postictal state. Ten children had subtle motor seizures. Posterior parieto-temporal discharges were the most common EEG finding. Seven children died, eight developed neurological sequelae, and 50 (77%) recovered fully. Status epilepticus was associated with the development of neurological sequelae. Prolonged, multiple seizures may play an important part in the pathogenesis of coma in childhood cerebral malaria, and are likely to contribute to both the morbidity and mortality of this disease.