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"Sleeping Fit" Caused by Excruciating Pain in an Infant

IRVING F. BURTON, M.D.; ARTHUR J. DERBYSHIRE, Ph.D.
AMA Am J Dis Child. 1958;95(3):258-260. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1958.02060050260005.
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In 1955, Davidson1 reported the case histories of four children who had periods of coma ranging from 6 to 240 hours. All four had a fast type of EEG pattern which consisted of a generalized steady cortical rhythm in the 16-per-second range. This EEG finding persisted until the children had awakened. No etiology was determined for the cause of this particular type of coma state. Similar cases have been noted in adults and have been designated as "sleeping fits," for want of a more appropriate title. In all of these cases, recovery was spontaneous, but recurrences were found in a few.

A one-year-old child seen by us in a state of coma had the EEG pattern described above. The child was in excruciating pain before lapsing into coma, and this is suggested as the etiologic mechanism in this case. As so few cases have been reported of this nature,

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