Childhood Epilepsy: Your Questions Answered

Here are some questions to ask your doctor that may help you better understand epilepsy in children.

My Child Was Diagnosed With Epilepsy. What Does This Mean?

Childhood epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes an infant or a child to have repeated seizures over time. Seizures, also known as convulsions, are episodes in which brain activity is disturbed, causing changes in attention or behavior. Epilepsy in children is sometimes caused by certain medical conditions such as a congenital brain defect or metabolism disorder present at birth, or as a result of a brain tumor or brain injury.

What Are Some Childhood Epilepsy Symptoms and Signs?

Symptoms of epilepsy in children vary depending on the particular part of the brain that has been affected and the cause of epilepsy. In some cases, children with epilepsy may have simple staring spells or loss of alertness, while others can experience violent shaking.

Symptoms of epilepsy in infants can include sudden jerking of his or heard forward when sitting down. Other symptoms of epilepsy in babies can include staring off into space, breathing problems or grabbing when he or she is lying down.

Symptoms of epilepsy in infants, toddlers, and older children can also include:

  • Suddenly falling for no reason
  • Rolling his or her eyes and blinking repeatedly
  • Suddenly nodding of his or her head
  • Stiffening of the arms or legs

Are There Treatments for Epilepsy in Infants and Children?

In most cases, childhood seizures can be well controlled by anticonvulsant drug therapy. Depending on the specific type of childhood epilepsy, some patients may need to take several different anti-epileptic drugs. Surgery is an important treatment option for children who have not been helped by medication, while dietary changes yield positive results in certain types of severe epilepsy. 

Will Epilepsy Affect Other Aspects of My Child’s Life?

Certain types of childhood epilepsy can improve or go away completely by the time a child is in their late teens or twenties. For others, epilepsy is a life-long condition where anti-seizure drug therapy must be continued. While there is a very low risk of sudden death with epilepsy, serious injuries can occur during certain activities like driving. Your doctor can help you determine the best childhood epilepsy treatment.

© 2020 Nicklaus Children's Hospital. All Rights Reserved.