Most children with epilepsy develop the condition in their first year of life. However, a wide variety of seizure types and syndromes are seen, and their later development differs. Some children develop slowly, continuing to have seizures, and experience learning difficulties in later childhood; whilst others have normal development and can expect good seizure control. A better understanding of the different types of epilepsies in this age group would allow doctors to better predict the progress of the condition form the outset, as well as improve the care for patients and families. Children most at risk could be recognised early and evaluated promptly for the most effective medical or surgical treatments available.

Drs Helen Cross and Christin Eltze, of the Wolfson Centre in London, have been awarded £54,352 to carry out a 12-month study of “Epilepsy in infancy: spectrum of aetiologies, natural history and outcome predictors”. They will look at all children in part of North London, aged less than two years, who go to a doctor because they have recurrent seizures. The researchers will evaluate the types of epilepsy seen and their underlying causes. They will also examine the relationship between the age of the child when their seizures start, the amount and type of electrical activity in the brain (as seen in EEG scans), other features on brain scans and the development of language, cognition and social skills.

This grant was made by the Epilepsy Research Foundation, now Epilepsy Research UK.

Additional donations to this project totalling £47,616 were made by the Foyle Foundation and the Baily Thomas Charitable Trust in 2007.