Epilepsy In Infants

Epilepsy Information 2012

Epilepsy In Infants

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that is commonly characterized by seizures. Generally, a person is considered to be epileptic if they have two or more seizures. Infants, children and adults can develop epilepsy at any point in their lives.

Epilepsy in infants is perhaps the most common type of epilepsy. A newborn can have a seizure within the first few days. However, this does not necessarily mean that the newborn baby has epilepsy. The seizures may be caused by acute stress during delivery, severe chemical imbalances in the brain, deficiency in pyridoxine (vitamin b6), and a temporary problem in the brain’s electric circuitry or from infections.

Seizures in infants may sometimes be due to genetics and are referred to as neonatal benign seizures.

Epilepsy in infants can be caused by a number of other reasons which include fevers, brain malformations or brain abnormality, brain tumors, idiopathic conditions, brain injury and other conditions.

Fevers – This is the most common cause of epilepsy in infants. Fevers result in what are referred to as febrile seizures. The fevers are quite commonly caused by elevated temperatures during illnesses such as the flu. Febrile seizures quite commonly stop before a child reached age 5 and they only minimally increase the risk of getting epilepsy later in life.

Children with febrile seizures are typically not treated with medication unless their seizures last longer than 15 minutes.

Brain malformations – Brain malformations may occur during the gestation period and can cause epilepsy in infants. The malformations may be genetic or spontaneous and will start causing seizures in infancy. These congenital malformations include tuberous sclerosis, hemimegalenncephaly, cortical dysplasia and Sturge-Weber syndrome. Cerebral palsy, which causes developmentla delays, also may cause epilepsy.

Infection – Infections such as encephalitis and meningitis. If the mother has rubella, HIV or herpes simplex, these infections may cause the infant to have seizures. Sometimes the seizures will stop once the infection goes away while sometimes the infections lead to long lasting epilepsy.

Other possible causes of epilepsy in infants are brain injury, cerebral infarction, Moyamoya disease and brain hemorrhage. Sometimes the cause of the epilepsy is not known as this is referred to as idiopathic epilepsy.

Epilepsy in infants can be a bit difficult to detect mostly because the infants cannot describe their symptoms or explain how they are feeling. Sometimes seizures are hardly noticeable and can be very varied. Seizures may be repetitive and consist of increased body stiffening that occurs suddenly, jerky body movements with a sudden onset, rhythmic movement of the eyes, arms or legs or very fast flexing of arms or legs against the body.

It is not uncommon for babies to twitch or have rapid eye movements as they sleep, and this is referred to as benign myoclonus. However, if you have any concerns, you should consult your pediatrician.