Epilepsy in Children

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a complex condition that makes a child susceptible to seizures. Seizures result from abnormal electrical activity in the brain: Some parts of the brain get over-excited and fire off too many electrical signals.

Epilepsy affects about 1 percent of children. It is sometimes caused by an underlying disease, injury or brain development disorder, but it often seems to appear out of nowhere. A child may have epilepsy if they have had two or more unprovoked seizures, meaning there is no detectable immediate cause of the seizures such as a high fever.

Epilepsy can involve many different types of seizures: Some are easy to recognize, when your child’s body shakes and they become temporarily less aware. Other seizures don’t have any obvious outward signs at all.

Epilepsy sometimes can cause changes in behavior and personality or lead to other neurological problems, learning difficulties, or depression and anxiety. Identifying these sorts of problems and intervening early are important aspects of caring for a child with epilepsy. Some doctors are starting to use the term “epilepsy spectrum disorder” to reflect how complex epilepsy can be.

How we care for epilepsy

Most children with epilepsy can achieve good seizure control with treatment, and some can live seizure-free. Treatments for epilepsy have expanded greatly in recent years to include many new medications, specialized diets and a wide range of surgical strategies. A new technique, noninvasive brain stimulation, is also being studied. Finding a treatment approach that works for your child can involve some trial and error.

For this reason, the Epilepsy Center at Boston Children’s Hospital provides individualized care for your child from a team of specialists from the most experienced neurology and neurosurgery programs in the United States. We work with you to create the most appropriate and effective treatment plan based on your child’s unique case.