Levetiracetam as the First-line Antiepileptic in Neonatal Seizures

Document Type : Original Article


Pediatrics Department, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education(MAHE), Manipal, Karnataka, India


Background: The quest persists for an ideal newer antiepileptic drug (AED) with better efficacy and tolerability. Levetiracetam (LEV) is one of these AEDs with a novel mechanism of action, good pharmacokinetic profile, acceptable tolerability, and side-effect profile. The present study assessed the safety and efficacy of intravenous levetiracetam as a first-line AED in neonatal seizures.
Methods: This prospective observational study was conducted on all term neonates with seizures admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of a tertiary care center. Neonates with hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia, hypomagnesemia, inborn errors of metabolism, or those who received other AEDs prior to admission were excluded from the study. 20mg/kg Intravenous LEV was administered as first-line AED and graded up to 40mg/kg if seizures were not controlled in 2 h; thereafter, second-line AED was added.
Results: Only 36.2% (21/58) of the cases responded to LEV as first-line AED. Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy(HIE) was the most common etiology of seizures (55.2%). Subtle seizures were most responsive to LEV (60%), while multifocal clonic seizures (22.3%) responded the least. No adverse effect of LEV was observed during the study period.
Conclusion: Only 36.2% of the cases responded to LEV as first-line AED, and subtle seizures were the most responsive seizures. Therefore, the efficacy of LEV as first-line AED in neonatal seizures is yet to be proven by a larger study. There were no adverse effects of LEV during the study period indicating the relative safety of this drug.


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