Prophylactic Phenobarbital After Neonatal Seizures

2014-07-23 21:09:47 | BioPortfolio


The treatment of infants with medications after their seizures have stopped is very variable. No one knows if continuing treatment with phenobarbital for up to several months is helpful or harmful. This clinical trial is designed to help answer that question and provide data that will help determine standard of care for these children.


The treatment of infants with antiepileptic medications after the resolution of neonatal seizures is highly variable and controversial. Infants are commonly treated with phenobarbital after their seizures have resolved to prevent recurrence. Data to support this practice are lacking but animal models suggest that the neonatal brain is vulnerable to repeated seizures. Yet exposure of the developing brain to phenobarbital for prolonged periods may have deleterious consequences. We are proposing a multi-center, randomized, clinical trial (RCT) to determine if continued treatment with phenobarbital reduces seizure recurrence without adversely affecting neurodevelopmental outcome or if infants' outcomes are improved if no prophylactic medication is given. We will identify infants with seizures beginning in the first week that resolve within 7 days and randomize them to receive phenobarbital or placebo daily for four months. Via visits and frequent telephone contacts over the first six months, we will determine the rate of seizure recurrence. The primary outcome, neurodevelopmental status, will be assessed at 18-22 months using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. Additional subgroup analyses are planned to determine the contribution of seizure etiology to outcome and predictive value of initial EEG classification. The trial will be conducted at 18 - 20 sites, chosen for their experience and proven track record for enrollment and retention in this specific population. The trial will be coordinated by the Clinical Trials Coordination Center at the University of Rochester and overseen by a Steering Committee composed of experienced trialists representing neonatology and pediatric neurology, biostatistics, and clinical trial administration.

Extrapolation from the results of an RCT of phenobarbital prophylaxis after febrile seizures in children suggests that phenobarbital may adversely affect brain development and may be ineffective in preventing seizures. Based on this previous RCT that resulted in near universal change in practice (the elimination of prolonged use of phenobarbital after simple febrile seizures), we anticipate that the data we generate may have a similar impact on standard of care for infants with neonatal seizures.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Control: Placebo Control, Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Caregiver, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Treatment


Neonatal Seizures


phenobarbital, placebo


University of Rochester
New York
United States


Not yet recruiting


University of Rochester

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-07-23T21:09:47-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

A condition marked by recurrent seizures that occur during the first 4-6 weeks of life despite an otherwise benign neonatal course. Autosomal dominant familial and sporadic forms have been identified. Seizures generally consist of brief episodes of tonic posturing and other movements, apnea, eye deviations, and blood pressure fluctuations. These tend to remit after the 6th week of life. The risk of developing epilepsy at an older age is moderately increased in the familial form of this disorder. (Neurologia 1996 Feb;11(2):51-5)

A barbiturate that is metabolized to PHENOBARBITAL. It has been used for similar purposes, especially in EPILEPSY, but there is no evidence mephobarbital offers any advantage over PHENOBARBITAL.

Rare congenital metabolism disorders of the urea cycle. The disorders are due to mutations that result in complete (neonatal onset) or partial (childhood or adult onset) inactivity of an enzyme, involved in the urea cycle. Neonatal onset results in clinical features that include irritability, vomiting, lethargy, seizures, NEONATAL HYPOTONIA; RESPIRATORY ALKALOSIS; HYPERAMMONEMIA; coma, and death. Survivors of the neonatal onset and childhood/adult onset disorders share common risks for ENCEPHALOPATHIES, METABOLIC, INBORN; and RESPIRATORY ALKALOSIS due to HYPERAMMONEMIA.

An antiepileptic agent related to the barbiturates; it is partly metabolized to PHENOBARBITAL in the body and owes some of its actions to this metabolite. Adverse effects are reported to be more frequent than with PHENOBARBITAL. (From Martindale, The Extra Pharmacopoeia, 30th ed, p309)

An autosomal recessive metabolic disorder caused by deficiencies in the mitochondrial GLYCINE cleavage system; an enzyme system with four components: P-, T-, H-, and L-proteins. Deficiency of the P-protein is the most prevalent form. Neonatal and juvenile presentations have been reported. Neonatal onset is more common and may be fatal. Clinical features include SEIZURES; hypotonia; APNEA; and COMA. When the illness presents in childhood there tends to be an associated progressive DEMENTIA accompanied by extrapyramidal signs. (Menkes, Textbook of Child Neurology, 5th ed, p46; Jpn J Hum Genet 1997 Mar;42(1):13-22)

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