Benign Neonatal Convulsions Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Oct 17, 2018
  • Author: Nitin C Patel, MD, MPH, FAAN; Chief Editor: Amy Kao, MD  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Before diagnosing an infant with benign neonatal convulsions, other conditions should be ruled out as causative factors, including prenatal or perinatal stroke, perinatal asphyxia, fever, persistent lethargy, pertinent maternal illness or drug abuse, signs of metabolic dysfunction, or neurologic abnormalities. See the differentials list below.

Although a "shotgun" approach is wasteful and unreasonable, it is also important not to miss a diagnosis of a treatable meningoencephalitis in the early stages or intracranial hemorrhage. Both of these conditions in neonates lack the typical findings observed in older infants and children, and the only early symptom may be seizures.

Also, entertain a healthy suspicion for child abuse in neonates, who often have just arrived home from the hospital following delivery.

Other Problems to Be Considered

Vitamin B-6 deficiency, maternal drug abuse, arteriovenous malformations, and tuberous sclerosis should also be considered during the evaluation of an infant for benign neonatal convulsions.

Differential Diagnoses