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Epidemiological and clinical studies of West syndrome in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan

      Abstract

      Recent advances in diagnostic and therapeutic techniques may have changed incidence and etiologies of West syndrome (WS). We performed a retrospective epidemiological study of WS that occurred in 47 children in Nagasaki Prefecture during a recent 10-year period from 1989 to 1998. The incidence of WS was 3.1/10,000 live births. Thirty-nine patients (83%) had symptomatic WS, in which the prenatal causes were most frequent, followed by low-birth weight (LBW) infants, perinatal and postnatal. Such high frequency of LBW may have been due to a relative increase in survivors of premature babies because of recent advances in perinatal care. The brain computerized tomography/magnetic resonance imaging performed in 41 patients revealed congenital brain malformation (10 patients), destructive brain disorders (13 patients), and no structural abnormalities (18 patients). The seizure outcome was worse in the symptomatic WS than in the cryptogenic WS. The developmental outcome was very poor in both symptomatic and cryptogenic WS. The mean developmental quotient (DQ) in all patients was 25, and only four patients (11%) had a normal DQ (>70). DQ was lower in patients with developmental delay before the onset of WS, symptomatic group, relapse and/or persistence of seizure. Developmental delay seen in WS patients seems to be related to the two major factors, that is, underlying brain abnormalities and the persistent seizures as a result of the former. Therefore, every effort should be made to control seizures, including medical and early surgical treatment, as well as prevention of brain damage through perinatal care.

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