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Landau-Kleffner syndrome (LKS), also called infantile acquired aphasia, acquired epileptic aphasia or aphasia with convulsive disorder, is a rare, childhood neurological syndrome characterized by the sudden or gradual development of aphasia (the inability to understand or express language) and an abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG). LKS affects the parts of the brain that control comprehension and speech. The disorder usually occurs in children between the ages of 5 and 7 years. Typically, children with LKS develop normally but then lose their language skills. While many of the affected individuals have clinical seizures, some only have electrographic seizures, including electrographic status epilepticus of sleep (ESES).
The syndrome can be difficult to diagnose and may be misdiagnosed as autism, pervasive developmental disorder, hearing impairment, learning disability, auditory/verbal processing disorder, attention deficit disorder, mental retardation, childhood schizophrenia, or emotional/behavioral problems.
Treatment for LKS usually consists of medications, such as anticonvulsants and corticosteroids, and speech therapy, which should be started early. A controversial treatment option involves a surgical technique called multiple subpial transection in which multiple incisions are made through the cortex of the affected part of the brain, severing the axonal tracts in the subjacent white matter.
The prognosis for children with LKS varies. Some affected children may have a permanent severe language disorder, while others may regain much of their language abilities (although it may take months or years). In some cases, remission and relapse may occur. The prognosis is improved when the onset of the disorder is after age 6 and when speech therapy is started early. Seizures generally disappear by adulthood.
- National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders
- Irwin K, Birch V, Lees J, Polkey C, Alarcon G, Binnie C, Smedley M, Baird G, Robinson RO. "Multiple subpial transection in Landau-Kleffner syndrome." Dev. Med. Child. Neurol. 2001 Apr;43(4):248-52.
- Tharpe AM, Olson BJ. "Landau-Kleffner syndrome: acquired epileptic aphasia in children." J. Am. Acad. Audiol. 1994 Mar;5(2):146-50.