Epilepsy in Children

Seizures in children have many causes. They can develop due to difficulties at birth, an infection such as meningitis, a severe head injury or lack of oxygen to the brain.

They could also be due to a high fever, spike in body temperature, better known as febrile seizures and occur in children between 6 months and 5 years of age, the greatest risk being between 12 and 18 months. Absence seizures start at the age of 5 or 6 and usually go away once the child is an adult.

There are several different types of seizures in children, pediatric seizures, which are categorized as two broad types, focal and generalized. Many seizures are brief events that will not continue into adulthood.

Some seizures resolve as the child matures but it’s difficult to know whether they are gone for good and other seizures may be serious and are accompanied by intellectual disability, developmental delay and reoccurring seizures. Long-term seizures can usually be controlled with treatment, and that often includes taking medication.

There are many types of medication that are used to treat epilepsy. The doctor will prescribe the type of medication depending on the child’s seizure type, age, side effects, and the comfort of use. These medications are usually tablets, capsules, syrup or sprinkles and there are medications that can be given into the nose or into the rectum.

Generally, children with epilepsy have seizures that respond well to medication and in return live a normal childhood. Those who remain seizure-free for 1 or 2 years while on medication, their doctor can safely say that their seizures have diminished and will eventually stop them from taking medication.

Most of these children won’t have another seizure, however, if their seizures return, they can most likely be controlled by retaking the medication. It is very important that you give your child their medication as prescribed by the doctor and on time and to look out for possible side effects. If your child shows signs of side effects, do not stop giving them their medication because that can cause them more seizures.

Call their doctor and seek their advice. During the course of your child taking medication, they may need to do some tests in order to track how well the medicine is working. They may have to do blood tests, a urine test, and/or an EEG (Electroencephalogram). Depending on the results, the doctor may need to adjust the dosage for the best seizure control. Your child may or may not need to take their medication for life.

Your child’s symptoms depend on their type of seizure. These symptoms and warning signs include staring, jerking movements of arms or legs, stiffening of the body, not responding to words or noises for brief moments, appearing confused or in a daze, breathing problems or stop breathing, rapid eye blinking, or falling suddenly for no apparent reason which is usually associated with the loss of awareness or consciousness.

The impact of seizures will vary for each child and it can make them prone to behavior problems such as social difficulties, academic difficulties, impulsive behavior, paying attention or controlling their temper. Try to keep a balance between encouraging your child’s independence and protecting them.

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