Design and phenomenology of the FEBSTAT study

Hesdorffer, D. C.; Shinnar, S.; Lewis, D. V.; Moshe, S. L.; Nordli, D. R., Jr.; Pellock, J. M.; MacFall, J.; Shinnar, R. C.; Masur, D.; Frank, L. M.; Epstein, L. G.; Litherland, C.; Seinfeld, S.; Bello, J. A.; Chan, S.; Bagiella, E.; Sun, S.

Epilepsia. 2012 Jun 30; 53(9):1471-80


PURPOSE: Febrile status epilepticus (FSE) has been associated with hippocampal injury and subsequent hippocampal sclerosis (HS) and temporal lobe epilepsy. The FEBSTAT study was designed to prospectively examine the association between prolonged febrile seizures and development of HS and associated temporal lobe epilepsy, one of the most controversial issues in epilepsy. We report on the baseline phenomenology of the final cohorts as well as detailed aims and methodology. METHODS: The "Consequences of Prolonged Febrile Seizures in Childhood" (FEBSTAT) study is a prospective, multicenter study. Enrolled are children, aged 1 month to 6 years of age, presenting with a febrile seizure lasting 30 min or longer based on ambulance, emergency department, and hospital records, and parental interview. At baseline, procedures included a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study and electroencephalography (EEG) recording done within 72 h of FSE, and a detailed history and neurologic examination. Baseline development and behavior are assessed at 1 month. The baseline assessment is repeated, with age-appropriate developmental testing at 1 and 5 years after enrollment as well as at the development of epilepsy and 1 year after that. Telephone calls every 3 months document additional seizures. Two other groups of children are included: a "control" group consisting of children with a first febrile seizure ascertained at Columbia University and with almost identical baseline and 1-year follow-up examinations and a pilot cohort of FSE from Duke University. KEY FINDINGS: The FEBSTAT cohort consists of 199 children with a median age at baseline of 16.0 months (interquartile range [IQR] 12.0-24.0) and a median duration of FSE of 70.0 min (IQR 47.0-110.0). Seizures were continuous in 57.3% and behaviorally intermittent (without recovery in between) in 31.2%; most were partial (2.0%) or secondary generalized (65.8%), and almost all (98.0%) culminated in a generalized tonic-clonic seizure. Of the 199 children, 86.4% had normal development and 20% had prior febrile seizures. In one third of cases, FSE was unrecognized in the emergency department. The Duke existing cohort consists of 23 children with a median age of FSE onset of 18.0 months (IQR 14.0-28.0) and median duration of FSE of 90.0 min (IQR 50.0-170.0). The Columbia control cohort consists of 159 children with a first febrile seizure who received almost the same workup as the FEBSTAT cohort at baseline and at 1 year. They were followed by telephone every 4 months for a median of 42 months. Among the control cohort, 64.2% had a first simple FS, 26.4% had a first complex FS that was not FSE, and 9.4% had FSE. Among the 15 with FSE, the median age at onset was 14.0 months (IQR 12.0-20.0) and the median duration of FSE was 43.0 min (IQR 35.0-75.0). SIGNIFICANCE: The FEBSTAT study presents an opportunity to prospectively study the relationship between FSE and acute hippocampal damage, the development of mesial temporal sclerosis, epilepsy (particularly temporal lobe epilepsy), and impaired hippocampal function in a large cohort. It is hoped that this study may illuminate a major mystery in clinical epilepsy today, and permit the development of interventions designed to prevent the sequelae of FSE.

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