Epilepsy is a common but complex brain disorder that can affect children of all ages, in different ways. Pinpointing the cause of your child’s seizures helps determine which treatment will be most effective in treating epilepsy symptoms.
At the Washington University Pediatric Epilepsy Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, we can help. Our specialists use the latest diagnostic tests and their extensive expertise to diagnose and treat children with all forms of epilepsy.
Children with epilepsy can experience a wide range of symptoms, to varying degrees. It’s common for children to get sleepy or confused after an epilepsy episode. If you suspect your child may have epilepsy, consult your child’s doctor for guidance.
Common signs that your child may be experiencing a seizure include:
- Rapid eye blinking or blank staring
- Jerking arm and leg movements or stiffening of the body
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Breathing problems or breathing stops
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Falling suddenly for no apparent reason, especially when associated with loss of consciousness
- Not responding to noise or words for a short time, or appearing confused
- Nodding the head rhythmically
Anyone can have a seizure when the normal connections between nerve cells in the brain get interrupted. A high fever, low blood sugar or a brain concussion can all lead to a seizure.
Epilepsy is when someone has two or more seizures. There are many types of epilepsy, caused by different things. Some people are born with epilepsy, while others develop the condition at some point during their life. Sometimes, the cause is unknown.
Common causes of epilepsy include:
- Abnormal brain development (present at birth)
- Chemical imbalance in the brain
- Brain injury
- Genetic conditions
- Brain tumor
Watch a medical animation about epilepsy.
World-Class Epilepsy Care at St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Get specialized epilepsy care for children, from leading experts in the field. Our team is committed to helping children decrease or eliminate their seizure symptoms and live full lives.
We offer families:
- Epilepsy expertise: Our care team includes 13 pediatric epileptologists, doctors who receive a high level of training in how epilepsy affects children of all ages. Epilepsy professionals with backgrounds in surgery, psychology and nutrition also play a role in many children’s care.
- Comprehensive diagnosis: A precise diagnosis is the first step to effectively managing epilepsy. Our intensive evaluation process, which may include neuroimaging or genetic testing, helps us learn as much as we can about what is causing your child’s symptoms. This information guides us to the treatments most likely to manage your child’s symptoms and improve their quality of life.
- Novel treatment options: We treat epilepsy using innovative therapies, including the ketogenic diet, neurostimulation and surgery. Our neurosurgeon is skilled in the latest epilepsy treatment options that free some children of seizures long term. Less invasive epilepsy surgery techniques can treat epilepsy symptoms with less impact on your child’s life. Find out more about epilepsy treatment options.
- Care for complex cases: Our epilepsy specialty clinics, such as the Pediatric Epilepsy Advanced Technologies Clinic, offer expert care for children whose seizures don’t respond to epilepsy medication. Learn more about our epilepsy specialty clinics.