Skip to main content

Epilepsy in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes seizures. It is also called a seizure disorder. A seizure means an abnormal area in your child's brain sometimes sends bursts of electrical activity. A seizure may start in one part of your child's brain, or both sides may be affected. Depending on the type of seizure, your child may have movements he or she cannot control, lose consciousness, or stare straight ahead. Your child may be confused or tired after the seizure. A seizure may last a few seconds or longer than 5 minutes. A birth defect, tumor, stroke, injury, or infection may cause epilepsy. The cause of your child's epilepsy may not be known. If the seizures are not controlled, epilepsy may become life-threatening.

How is epilepsy diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's health conditions and what medicines he or she takes. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed if your child has at least 2 seizures within 24 hours. It may also be diagnosed if your child has 1 seizure but is likely to have more. Your child's risk is higher with a family history of epilepsy. A brain scan may also show signs of epilepsy that make another seizure likely. Tell the provider how close together the seizures were if your child had more than one. The provider will ask for a detailed description of each seizure. If you did not see the seizure happen, try to bring someone with you who did see it. Your child may also need any of the following:

How is epilepsy treated?

The goal of treatment is to try to stop your child's seizures completely. He or she may need any of the following:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What else do I need to know about epilepsy?

What can I do to help prevent my child's seizures?

You may not be able to prevent every seizure. The following can help you and your child manage triggers that may make a seizure start:

What can I do to manage my child's epilepsy?

How can I protect my child during a seizure?

How can I keep my child safe?

Your child may need to follow these safety measures:

What do I need to know about stopping my child's medicine?

Your child's healthcare provider can help you understand and make decisions about antiseizure medicines. Do not stop giving your child the medicine until his or her healthcare provider says it is okay. Your child will need to have no seizures for a period of time, such as 18 to 24 months. Then you and the provider can decide if your child should continue taking the medicine. The provider will lower your child's dose over a certain period of time. Seizures may happen again while your child stops taking the medicine, or after he or she stops. Rarely, these seizures no longer respond to medicines. Tests such as an EEG may be useful in helping you and your child's provider make medicine decisions.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

When should I call my child's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

© Copyright Merative 2024 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

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