Epilepsia 61 (11) 2486-2499 [2020-11-00; online 2020-09-23]
Population-based data on epilepsy syndromes and etiologies in early onset epilepsy are scarce. The use of next-generation sequencing (NGS) has hitherto not been reported in this context. The aim of this study is to describe children with epilepsy onset before 2 years of age, and to explore to what degree whole exome and whole genome sequencing (WES/WGS) can help reveal a molecular genetic diagnosis. Children presenting with a first unprovoked epileptic seizure before age 2 years and registered in the Stockholm Incidence Registry of Epilepsy (SIRE) between September 1, 2001 and December 31, 2006, were retrieved and their medical records up to age 7 years reviewed. Children who met the epilepsy criteria were included in the study cohort. WES/WGS was offered in cases of suspected genetic etiology regardless of whether a structural or metabolic diagnosis had been established. One hundred sixteen children were included, of which 88 had seizure onset during the first year of life and 28 during the second, corresponding to incidences of 139 and 42/100 000 person-years, respectively. An epilepsy syndrome could be diagnosed in 54% of cases, corresponding to a birth prevalence of 1/1100. Structural etiology was revealed in 34% of cases, a genetic cause in 20%, and altogether etiology was known in 65% of children. The highest diagnostic yield was seen in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with 65% revealing an etiology. WES/WGS was performed in 26/116 cases (22%), with a diagnostic yield of 58%. Epilepsy syndromes can be diagnosed and etiologies revealed in a majority of early onset cases. NGS can identify a molecular diagnosis in a substantial number of children, and should be included in the work-up, especially in cases of epileptic encephalopathy, cerebral malformation, or metabolic disease without molecular diagnosis. A genetic diagnosis is essential to genetic counselling, prenatal diagnostics, and precision therapy.