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Seizures

Childhood seizures, or convulsions, can be caused by a variety of common, and sometimes uncommon, childhood illnesses that result in abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Seizures in children can be divided into two main categories: 1) febrile seizure - occurs when a child contracts an illness such as an ear infection or chickenpox accompanied by fever and 2) nonfebrile seizure (a seizure which occurs without fever present).

Febrile seizures are the most common type of seizure seen in children. Two to five percent of children have a febrile seizure at some point during their childhood.

Nonfebrile seizures may be caused by a drug overdose (e.g., cocaine), a head injury, various metabolic disorders (e.g., low blood sugar), or in most cases in children there is an unknown cause for the seizure.

Different types of seizures may occur in different parts of the brain and may be localized (affect only a part of the body) or widespread (affect the whole body). Some seizures are not very obvious; you may only notice blinking of the eyes or nodding of the head in the child.

Status epilepticus is either a seizure lasting longer than 15 – 30 minutes or repeated seizures without improvement in the level of consciousness between the episodes. It is most common in children younger than 2 years.

Recurrent seizures (i.e. those that occur more than once) are known as epilepsy. Epilepsy affects approximately eight out of 1000 children of school age. Thirty percent of children diagnosed with epilepsy continue to have repeated seizures into adulthood, while others improve over time. Epilepsy may run in families.

Early recognition and treatment of seizures is important because a child who has repeated without being noticed may have to face additional problems down the road, such as developmental delay.

This section of the website will cover the different types of childhood seizures, what you should do if your child is having one, how seizures are evaluated and there treatment and prevention, if possible.