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Old drug may be first choice for childhood petit mal epilepsy

Effectiveness and modest side effects tilt comparison toward ethosuximide

In a three-way test, a 50-year-old drug has edged out two newer ones for treatment of a kind of epilepsy that causes children to gaze off into space.

The new study provides much-needed data for doctors, since all three medications have been used for years without being compared against one another in a controlled trial. The drug that came out on top, ethosuximide, gave the best balance of effectiveness and side effects, researchers report in the March 4 New England Journal of Medicine.

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