Epilepsy and Behavior
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Aim: In clinical practice, there is a prevailing notion that photosensitivity mostly occurs in children with epilepsy (CWE) with idiopathic generalized epilepsy. We investigated the distribution of epilepsy types and etiology in photosensitive children and the associations with specific clinical and electroencephalogram (EEG) variables. Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, clinical data were acquired from all children that showed photosensitivity during systematic intermittent photic stimulation (IPS), over a 10-year interval at a tertiary level Children's Hospital, Winnipeg. Patient demographics, EEG findings, and clinical data and symptoms during IPS were abstracted. Classification of diagnoses using the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) 2017 guidelines was done by an expert panel. Results: Seventy-eight photosensitive children were identified. Forty (51.3%) had generalized epilepsy (idiopathic: 27, structural: 2, other: 11) compared with 19 (24.4%) focal (idiopathic: 1, structural: 2, other: 16), 8 (10.3%) combined focal and generalized (structural: 4, other: 4), and 11 (14.1%) unknown epilepsy (other: 11); (χ2 (3) = 32.1, p = .000). Self-sustaining or outlasting photoparoxysmal responses (PPRs) occurred in association with all epilepsy types; however, the EEGs of focal CWE without treatment comprised almost solely of PPRs which outlasted the stimulus (8/10), in contrast to only 8/17 of focal CWE with treatment and to 13/26 of generalized epilepsy without treatment. Most frequency intervals in individual patients were less under treatment: a decrease in standardized photosensitivity range (SPR) was seen in 5 CWE, an increase in 2, and no change in 1 during treatment. Both CWE with focal and generalized epilepsy showed abnormal activity on EEG during hyperventilation (40% vs 65.7%). Thirteen out of 14 CWE with clinical signs during IPS had independent spontaneous epileptiform discharges (SEDs) in the EEG recording. Conclusion: Photosensitivity occurs in all types of epilepsy rather than in idiopathic generalized epilepsy alone. Surprisingly, there is a tendency for focal epilepsy to be associated with self-sustaining PPRs, especially when no treatment is used. Treatment tends to make the PPR more self-limiting and decrease the SPR. There is a tendency that clinical signs during IPS occur in EEGs in individuals with SEDs.