An epilepsy syndrome is defined by patterns of recurrent seizures that follow a similar course from one individual to the next, including age of onset, seizure type, and, often, characteristic EEG patterns. Importantly, individuals with a particular epilepsy syndrome also respond in a predictable manner to medications, and such syndromes may relate to underlying genetic factors and point to a family history of or predisposition to this form of epilepsy.
Epilepsy syndromes are sometimes grouped into two classes: benign and catastrophic. Seizures associated with benign syndromes are typically well controlled with medications and are often outgrown. In contrast, seizures associated with catastrophic syndromes often persist despite medication or the age of the child, and typically result in more extensive developmental problems.