Seizure -- Child

A seizure is a sudden change in behavior. It is caused by sudden, abnormal, and excessive electrical activity in the brain. A neonatal seizure occurs in newborn babies. Seizures may be severe or mild. They may cause physical changes like convulsions. It may affect only part of the body or the entire body. A short seizure itself does not cause serious health conditions. Prolonged seizures can lead to permanent damage. The damage is due to decreased oxygen and excessive brain cell activity.

  • Causes


    There are a variety of causes of seizures in children, which include:


    • Conditions like
      epilepsy

    • An injury or
      trauma
      to the head

    • Infections, including
      meningitis
      and abscesses in the brain
    • Brain tumor
    • Stroke
    • Accidental poisoning

    • Certain medical conditions, including:

      • Low blood sugar

      • Very high fever (especially in children)—called
        febrile seizures
      • Electrolyte abnormalities
    • Hydrocephalis
    • Congenital diseases or deformities

    Sometimes seizures occur for unknown reasons.

  • Definition


    A
    seizure
    is a sudden change in behavior. It is caused by sudden, abnormal, and excessive electrical activity in the brain. A neonatal seizure occurs in newborn babies.

    Seizures may be severe or mild. They may cause physical changes like convulsions. It may affect only part of the body or the entire body. A short seizure itself does not cause serious health conditions. Prolonged seizures can lead to permanent damage. The damage is due to decreased oxygen and excessive brain cell activity.

    Generalized Seizure
    Generalized seizure
    Abnormal and excessive electrical activity in the brain.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your child‘s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may be done to look for the cause of the seizure.


    Tests to look for infections may include the following:

    • Lumbar puncture
      —removal of a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid for testing
      to look for infection in brain or spinal cord
    • Blood tests—to look for infections, low blood sugar, abnormal electrolytes, or poison


    Tests to look for abnormalities in brain may include:

    • CT scan of the head
      —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the head
    • MRI scan of the head
      —a test that uses magnetic energy to make pictures of structures inside the head
    • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
      —a test that records the brain’s activity by measuring electrical currents through the brain

  • Prevention

    Medicine, if recommended, can usually prevent seizures. It is important to take anticonvulsant medication as needed.


    Febrile seizures are may be the first sign of a fever. This can make it difficult to prevent. About 30% of children that have had a febrile seizure will have another seizure when they have a fever. Your doctor may advise that you give your child medicine to keep fever down whenever he/she gets sick.
    Note
    :
    Aspirin
    is not recommended for children or teens with a current or
    recent viral infection. This is because of the risk of
    Reye's
    syndrome

    . Ask your doctor which other medicines are safe for your child.


    Seizures can still happen despite treatment. Take the
    safety steps
    listed above if you notice your child's behavior changing.

  • Risk Factors


    Factors that may increase your child's risk of having a seizure include:

    • Having had a previous seizure
    • Having a very high fever

    • Having health conditions like:

      • Epilepsy
      • Brain tumors
      • Brain infections
    • Having a family history of seizures.

  • Symptoms


    Seizure symptoms may include:

    • Confusion
    • Unconsciousness
    • Staring, or a dazed look
    • Jerking movements of the limbs and/or body (convulsions)
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Eyes rolling back in the head
    • Crying or moaning
    • Vomiting
    • Urinating


    If you suspect your child is having a seizure, act quickly:

    • Protect from physical injury—Place your child on the floor or bed. Make sure they are not near any hard or sharp objects.
    • Protect airway—Do not place anything in your child's mouth during the convulsion. Turn your child’s head to the side. This will allow saliva or vomit to drain from the mouth.
    • Watch the time—The length of the convulsions should be less than five minutes.
    • Unless the doctor has told you otherwise, call 911.

  • Treatment

    Treatment for the seizures depends on the cause of the seizures. Some seizures will not require treatment. If the seizure is caused by an underlying condition your child's doctor will create a plan to treat that condition. Resolving the underlying condition will likely stop the seizures.

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. You may also be referred to a pediatric neurologist.


    If your newborn is diagnosed with neonatal seizures, follow your doctor's
    instructions
    .