Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery (cont.)

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What causes epilepsy in children?

Many different disorders of the brain may be associated with epilepsy.

For some patients the epileptic disorder is congenital, that is, the child is born with the predisposition to have epilepsy. In other patients, the epileptic disorder is acquired, as a result of brain damage that occurred after birth.

The congenital epilepsies could be the result of the child having a gene that is responsible for the epileptic disorder; these are the genetic types of epilepsy. Alternatively, congenital epilepsy may be the result of factors that interfere with the development of the brain during gestation, resulting in brain malformations.

In acquired epileptic disorders, the damage might occur at the time of birth, for example the case of newborns that have oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery; or intracranial bleeding, as seen in some children born prematurely. Also, the brain damage may occur any time after birth. For example, epilepsy could be a complication of infections in the brain (meningitis, encephalitis), head injuries with brain damage, brain tumors, or intracranial bleeding.

Are seizures bad for children?

Presently there is no indication that short-lasting seizures will result in any brain damage. However, prolonged seizures, especially generalized tonic-clonic seizures, in some cases could result in brain damage, but this is very unusual.

Although brain damage is not likely, children can be injured at the time of the seizures. For example, in the atonic seizures there is a sudden loss of muscle power and, if this happens when the patient is standing, it is followed by a fall that might result in injuries to the face and/or mouth. Similar types of physical injuries can happen with other seizures.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/25/2014