Epilepsy in children


Epilepsy is a neurological condition affecting children, characterized by sudden bursts of abnormal electrical activity in the brain, leading to seizures. Seizures can manifest differently, including episodes where a child loses consciousness and experiences uncontrollable body movements. However, not all seizures have the same appearance, as some children may exhibit behaviors like staring or confusion during a seizure. 

It’s essential to note that while epilepsy can cause seizures, not all seizures in children are necessarily due to epilepsy. To confirm an epilepsy diagnosis, a healthcare provider will assess whether a child has experienced multiple seizures not linked to an underlying medical condition. 

Healthcare professionals may refer to this condition as pediatric epilepsy or a seizure disorder. Treatment options for epilepsy in children can include medical interventions, surgical procedures, implanted medical devices, and the use of a ketogenic diet. 

There are several types of epilepsy in children, including: 

  • Absence epilepsy: It leads to brief episodes of confusion and staring, during which the child cannot respond to stimuli. 
  • Rolandic epilepsy: This type of epilepsy occurs during sleep transitions and can cause uncontrolled movements, often on one side of the body, and affect speech. 
  • Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy: Common in puberty, it causes muscle twitching and jerking, mainly upon awakening. 
  • Infantile spasms (west syndrome): These are severe seizures in infants, leading to twitching, jerking, and uncontrollable body movements, often during sleep transitions. 
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS): LGS causes seizures characterized by sudden muscle stiffness and relaxation, as well as moments of nonawareness and unresponsiveness during seizures. 


The first sign of epilepsy in children is seizures. During a seizure, epilepsy in children shows as follows:  

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness.  
  • Uncontrollably jerking, twitching, or repeatedly moving a certain body part.  
  • Not being able to speak, lip-smacking, or using their mouth to chew.  
  • Rapid heart rate.  
  • Fast breathing.  

Identifying a seizure in a baby can be more difficult than in older children. As a caregiver, it’s important to observe any unusual behaviors, note their duration, and discuss these observations with the child’s healthcare provider. 

Following a seizure, a child might experience fatigue or feel confused by what happened. Until the seizure stops, they may not remember anything about it. Seizures frequently result in headaches.  

Seek medical attention if the child experiences the following:   

  • The frequency of the seizures increased.  
  • Side effects from antiseizure medication.  
  • Anxiety or depression.  
  • Developmental milestones not reached at the expected age. 


Epilepsy in children results from uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain, disrupting communication between brain cells. Possible causes include head injuries, birth complications, infections, brain abnormalities from birth, genetic predisposition, or it can occur without a clear reason. Ongoing research aims to better understand the origins of childhood epilepsy. 

Risk factors  

A child may be more likely to develop epilepsy if they have the following factor:  

  • Genetic tendency, or past history of epilepsy in their biological family.  
  • Traumatic brain injury history.  
  • History of a brain infection.  
  • Additional neurological disorders or issues.