An 11-year review of levetiracetam ingestions in children less than 6 years of age

J. C. Lewis, Timothy E Albertson, M. J. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background. Levetiracetam is a new anticonvulsant, which works to block high-voltage-activated Ca++ channels in children, for partial-onset seizures. Reports of clinical experience with pediatric ingestions are minimal. The purpose of this study was to characterize the toxicity of accidental levetiracetam exposures in children less than 6 years of age.

Methods. This was an 11-year retrospective observational case series of pediatric (< 6 years old) levetiracetam ingestions reported to a Poison Control System from 2002 to 2013. Case narratives were individually reviewed to collect desired information on exposure and clinical course. Inclusion criteria were levetiracetam as a single ingested medication, age less than 6 years, treatment in a health care facility, and followed to a known outcome.

Results. Eighty-two cases met inclusion criteria with 55% female patients and overall median age of 2.0 years (range: 1-60 months). The levetiracetam dose ingested was reported in 69 (84.1%) cases, with exact dose (median dose, 45.0 mg/kg; range, 10.5-1429 mg/kg) reported in 33 cases (40.2%). Of these, twenty-nine cases (88%) involved the oral solution formulation and 28 cases (85%) had unintentional therapeutic error as the cause of the exposure. No dose-response relationship was demonstrated; however, the odds of a levetiracetam-naive patient, (median dose, 26.9 mg/kg; N = 15) with an unintentional exposure, developing drowsiness or ataxia was 6 times that of a patient who was not naïve to levetiracetam (median dose, 70.1 mg/kg; N = 20) (Odds ratio [OR], 6.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-35.91).Of the 82 cases, 17 (20.7%) developed untoward clinical effects of drowsiness and/or ataxia. Eighty patients (97.6%) were treated and discharged from the emergency department, and two patients (2.4%) were admitted. The two patients admitted included a two-month old who was accidentally given a dose 10 times that of her usual dose and a 3-year old who was lethargic on arrival to the hospital after ingestion of an unknown dose. Of all patients, 66 patients (80.5%) had no effect from the drug exposure. The medical outcome was considered to be minor in 15 cases (18.3%), and moderate in 1 case (1.2%). There were no cases with major outcomes and no deaths.

Conclusions. Pediatric levetiracetam exposures were associated with few transient clinical effects. Poison Control Centers may wish to consider acuity of ingestion when developing send-in protocols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)964-968
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Toxicology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Anticonvulsant
  • CNS/Psychological
  • Complications of poisoning
  • Organ/tissue
  • Other
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Specific

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Medicine(all)


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