Epilepsy Meds for Kids Go Head to Head

Lorazepam no better than diazepam for epileptic seizures in children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Different medications exist that might effectively treat seizures in children with epilepsy. The best way to find out which ones work best is to compare them to one another.

A recent study compared the safety and effectiveness of two different medications for epileptic seizures in children.

One medication was diazepam (brand name Valium), which is a standard treatment commonly used for children's seizures. The other one being tested against diazepam was lorazepam (brand name Ativan), which is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating seizures.

The researchers did not find any reason that lorazepam was better than diazepam.

"Discuss seizure treatment options with your pediatrician."

The study, led by James Chamberlain, MD, of Division of Emergency Medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Michigan, compared diazepam and lorazepam for treatment of seizures in epileptic children.

The researchers compared the medications' safety and effectiveness in 273 patients, aged 3 months to 17 years old, who went to a pediatric emergency room with epileptic seizures between 2008 and 2012.

Diazepam, the standard treatment, was given through an IV (0.2 mg/kg) to 140 patients, and the other 133 received lorazepam through an IV (0.1 mg/kg).

Neither the doctors providing the medications nor the patients receiving them knew which medication they were getting during the study.

The drugs provided were considered effective if they stopped the patient's seizure within 10 minutes and no seizure returned within the next half hour.

The drugs were considered safe if the patient did not need a machine for assisted breathing.

The researchers also looked at how much the children's seizures reoccurred, whether they needed to be sedated and how long it took their seizure to stop.

Diazepam was effective in stopping seizures within 10 minutes for 72 percent of the children who received it, and 16 percent of children needed assisted breathing.

Lorazepam was effective in 73 percent of the children who received it, and 18 percent of children needed assisted breathing.

Slightly more patients taking lorazepam needed to be sedated (67 percent) than patients taking diazepam (50 percent).

Therefore, the researchers determined that lorazepam did not offer any advantages over diazepam for treating seizures in children.

The study was published April 23 in JAMA. The research was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Department of Health and Human Services.

One author has consulted for Mast Therapeutics, and no other potential conflicts of interest were reported besides additional works for the National Institutes of Health.

Review Date: 
April 23, 2014
Last Updated:
April 24, 2014