What Is Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome?
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) is a seizure disorder. Children with LGS will have:
- several different kinds of seizures
- some degree of intellectual disability
- abnormal findings on an EEG (a test to see brain waves/electrical activity)
LGS begins in children when they're 3 to 5 years old. It's a lifelong condition that requires a high level of care.
What Kinds of Seizures Happen in Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome?
The different seizure types in LGS can cause a variety of symptoms.
- muscles suddenly become stiff
- last about 20 seconds
- usually involve both sides of the body
- often happen during sleep
- muscles briefly and unexpectedly go weak or limp (called "drop attacks")
- last less than 20 seconds
- can involve the whole body or just certain parts
- after the seizure, the child recovers quickly
- Atypical absence seizures: staring spells with blinking, smacking or chewing, rubbing hands together (called automatisms)
- Myoclonic seizures: brief muscle twitches or jerks in the neck, shoulders, upper arms, and face
- Tonic-clonic seizures: convulsions with rhythmic jerks, rigid muscles, loss of consciousness, and eyes rolling back
What Causes Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome?
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome can be caused by multiple conditions. For example, early brain injury from infection or trauma, genetic causes, or brain malformations can all lead to LGS.
Sometimes, LGS has no clear cause.
How Is Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome Diagnosed?
LGS is diagnosed by a pediatric neurologist (a doctor who specializes in brain, spine, and nervous system problems). Testing includes:
- EEG. Children with LGS will have a pattern showing "generalized slow spike and wave."
- VEEG, or video electroencephalography (EEG with video recording)
- CAT scan and MRI to look inside the brain
How Is Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome Treated?
Seizures in LGS don't usually respond well to medicines. Other treatments include:
- neurostimulation (a device that stimulates nerves to stop seizures)
- the ketogenic diet (a strict high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet)
- surgery, such as corpus callosotomy where the "bridge" that connects the two brain hemispheres is cut. This works best for tonic and atonic seizures, and might not help the other types of seizures.
How Can I Help My Child?
Caring for a child with LGS can be challenging. Work with your child's care team to set up needed appointments and therapies.
Make sure that you and other adults and caregivers (family members, babysitters, teachers, coaches, etc.) know what to do during a seizure. Your child may need to wear a helmet to prevent head injury during seizures.Back to Articles
Seizures are a common symptom of epilepsy, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Learn all about epilepsy, including what to do if you see someone having a seizure.Read More
Epilepsy causes electrical signals in the brain to misfire, which can lead to multiple seizures. Anyone can get epilepsy at any age, but most new diagnoses are in kids.Read More
It comes from a Greek word meaning "to hold or seize," and seizures are what happen to people with epilepsy. Learn more about epilepsy in this article written just for kids.Read More
Epilepsy Factsheet (for Schools)
What teachers should know about epilepsy, and what they can do to help students with the condition succeed in school.Read More
Epilepsy surgery is an operation done on the brain to reduce or stop seizures.Read More
Seizures are caused by a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. Find out what you need to know about seizures and what to do if your child has one.Read More
A PET/MRI scan is an imaging test that combines PET and MRI in one session. It creates very detailed pictures of the inside of the body.Read More
First Aid: Febrile Seizures
Febrile seizures are convulsions that happen in some children with fevers. They usually stop on their own after a few minutes and don't cause any other health problems.Read More
A ketogenic diet is a strict high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that can reduce, and sometimes stop, seizures.Read More
Childhood Absence Epilepsy (CAE)
Kids with childhood absence epilepsy (CAE) have seizures where they "blank out" for a few seconds. Most kids will outgrow CAE.Read More
Intractable epilepsy is when a child's seizures can't be controlled by medicines. Doctors may recommend surgery or other treatments for intractable seizures.Read More
Benign Rolandic Epilepsy
Kids with benign rolandic epilepsy of childhood (BREC) have seizures that involve twitching, numbness, or tingling of the face or tongue.Read More
Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy
Kids with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) have one or more of several different kinds of seizures, which begin around the age of puberty.Read More
Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
Kids with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) have seizures that start in one of the temporal lobes of the brain. Seizures usually get better with medicine.Read More