In a prospective study 44 children, aged 6 months to 5 years, admitted to hospital with febrile convulsions or epilepsy, were treated with diazepam in solution administered rectally during 59 generalised attacks. Rectal administration of diazepam was effective in the acute treatment of convulsions in 80% of cases. In 10% the treatment failed, whereas diazepam administered intravenously had prompt effect; another 10% of the convulsions wer resistant to diazepam, irrespective of the route of administration. The therapeutic effect was significantly correlated with the duration of convulsions before treatment started. Early treatment (convulsions less than or equal to 15 minutes) had effect in 96%, and late treatment (convulsions greater than 15 minutes) in 57% of cases. A total of 317 children admitted with febrile convulsions were treated prophylactically with diazepam administered rectally whenever the temperature was greater than or equal to 38.5 degrees C. No case of significant respiratory depression or other serious side effects was observed. The rapid and reliable anticonvulsant effect of diazepam given rectally and the very few side effects makes this treatment a valuable alternative to IV administration in childhood.
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