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Electroencephalogram in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.


What you need to know about an EEG:

An EEG is a test that measures the electrical activity in your child's brain. It can help providers decide what treatments your child needs. An EEG can help diagnose or monitor any of the following:

  • Seizures
  • Sleep disorders
  • Brain infection, disease, or injury
  • Brain activity during brain surgery or a coma
  • Brain activity before a medical procedure or surgery

How to prepare your child for an EEG:

Your child's provider will talk to you about how to prepare your child for an EEG. The provider will tell you which medicines to give your child or not give on the day of the test. Do not let your child drink or eat foods with caffeine on the day of the test. Do not put oils or lotions on your child's scalp or hair for 24 hours before the test. This includes conditioner, hair spray, hair cream, or hair gel.

What will happen during an EEG:

  • Your child will not feel pain during the test. You may be able to stay with your child during the test or you may need to leave the room. Providers will ask your child to lie still and not talk during the test. A provider will put gel or cream on your child's scalp. The provider will place small discs in different places on your child's head. The discs will be connected to wires and a monitor. The monitor will record the electrical activity of your child's brain.
  • During the test your child may be asked to change how fast he or she breathes. Your child may also be asked to look at pictures or a flashing light. The provider may make loud noises.
  • Bright lights or loud noises may cause your child to have a seizure during the test. Providers may give your child medicine to control or stop the seizure. They will also help protect your child from injury.
  • Your child may be given medicine to help him or her sleep during the test. Your child may also be videotaped during the test. The videotape will help providers watch for signs of a seizure.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child stops breathing, turns blue, or you cannot feel his or her pulse.
  • Your child cannot be woken after his or her seizure.
  • Your child's seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
  • Your child has more than 1 seizure before he or she is fully awake or aware.
  • Your child has a seizure and is diabetic.
  • Your child has a seizure in the water.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child does not act normally after a seizure.
  • Your child is very weak and tired, has a stiff neck, or cannot stop vomiting.
  • Your child is injured during a seizure.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has seizures even with treatment.
  • Your child picks at his or her clothes, smacks his or her lips, or fidgets, but does not seem to be aware of his or her actions.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

What to do if your child has a seizure:

  • Do not panic.
  • Note the start time of the seizure. Record how long it lasts.
  • Gently guide your child to the floor or a soft surface. Cushion his or her head and remove sharp objects from the area around him or her.
  • Place your child on his or her side to help prevent him or her from swallowing saliva or vomit.
  • Loosen your child's clothing around the head and neck.
  • Remove any objects from your child's mouth. Do not put anything in your child's mouth. This may prevent him or her from breathing.
  • Perform CPR if your child stops breathing or you cannot feel his or her pulse.
  • Let your child sleep or rest after his or her seizure. He or she may be confused for a short time after his or her seizure. Do not give him or her anything to eat or drink until he or she is fully awake.

Give your child's medicine as directed:

Call your child's provider if you think the medicine is not helping or if your child has side effects. Tell your child's provider if your child is taking any vitamins, herbs, or other medicines. Keep a list of the medicines your child takes. Include the amounts, and when and why your child takes them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.