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Frequently Asked Questions 


When should seronegative (antibody negative) Autoimmune Encephalitis be suspected in children?




Only up to 44% of patients with AE have an antibody positive status. ‘Seronegative but suspected autoimmune encephalitis’ has received a consensus definition in 2013. The definition includes rapid progression of symptoms, along with exclusion of well-defined AE syndromes such as typical limbic encephalitis, absence of serum and CSF antibodies along with two of: MRI abnormalities suggestive of autoimmune encephalitis, CSF pleocytosis, CSF-specific oligoclonal bands or elevated CSF IgG index or brain biopsy showing inflammatory infiltrates, along with exclusion of other causes.


When to Suspect Autoimmune Encephalitisin Children?


The diagnosis of AE should be suspected in all children who develop a polysymptomatic syndrome encompassing encephalopathy, seizures, movement disorders, psychiatric features, gait disturbances and autonomic disturbances. The clinical features suggestive of autoimmune encephalitis include:

• Abrupt onset / rapid decline
• Autonomic instability
• Delirium slipping into catatonia and vice versa
• Urinary/ fecal incontinence
• Cognitive slowing • Gait and balance disorder
• Relapse after treatment for viral encephalitis
• Seizures that may be in the form of status epilepticus or multifocal drug resistant epilepsy or seizure clusters
• Involvement of multiple domains eg. Cognition and extrapyramidal system etc.
• CSF may also reveal features of inflammation in the absence of infection. Features that point away from the diagnosis of AIE include:
• A very chronic or indolent course
• Plateauing of symptoms
• No impairment in activities of daily living
• Cognition remaining intact
• Purely psychiatric symptoms


Paediatric autoimmune encephalopathies: clinical features, laboratory investigations and outcomes in patients with or without
antibodies to known central nervous system autoantigens

Clinical Approach to the Diagnosis of Autoimmune Encephalitis in the Pediatric Patient


criteria possible-definite ab positive-probable ab negative pediatric AE-clinical approach-pediatric- table-4

Our website is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice. Nothing contained on our website is intended to be used as medical advice. No content is intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice. Although THE INTERNATIONAL AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS SOCIETY  provides a great deal of information about AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS, all content is provided for informational purposes only. The International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society  cannot provide medical advice.

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society is a charitable non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2016 by Tabitha Andrews Orth, Gene Desotell and Anji Hogan-Fesler. Tax ID# 81-3752344. Donations raised directly supports research, patients, families and caregivers impacted by autoimmune encephalitis and to educating healthcare communities around the world. Financial statement will be made available upon request.

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