Epilepsy in Children
Seizures and epilepsy can be frightening for you and your child, and they may cause difficulties with learning and social engagement. At Henry Ford Health, we offer advanced treatment options and personalized plans to help control seizures and maximize your child’s quality of life.
What is epilepsy? What is a seizure?
A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled surge of electrical activity in the brain that can affect your child’s behavior, sensations, movements or consciousness. To receive a diagnosis of epilepsy, a child must have had at least two seizures.
Having one seizure doesn’t mean that your child has epilepsy, and not all seizures are the result of epilepsy. Our pediatric epileptologists (specialists in treating epilepsy and seizures) have years of expertise in identifying the type of seizure and other details needed to accurately diagnose epilepsy.
Types of seizures in children
Some types of seizures occur only in infants and children, including:
- Infantile spasms: This type of epilepsy affects babies and can lead to other types of epilepsy or development disorders.
- Childhood absence epilepsy: Beginning around age 4 to 8, this type causes short seizures (less than 20 seconds).
- Febrile seizures: This type occurs usually in children under age 5 after a high fever (102 degrees Fahrenheit or greater).
- Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy: Teens develop this type of epilepsy, and its seizures usually occur when the child is waking up.
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome: A severe type of epilepsy, this type usually develops in preschool-age children and can cause learning disorders and behavior problems.
Children can also experience many of the same types of seizures as adults do. Learn more about epilepsy and types of seizures we treat and their symptoms and causes.
Pediatric epilepsy care at Henry Ford: Why choose us?
Our team helps children with all kinds of seizures, including those with causes other than epilepsy. Highlights of our epilepsy care include:
- Family-centered approach: We meet with you and your child in extended, group visits so we can get to know your needs and goals. Our one-hour appointments provide plenty of time for education and counseling to help you and your child understand seizures and epilepsy.
- Nationally recognized expertise: We’ve received recognition as a level 4 epilepsy center from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC). Our experienced team provides the highest level of care for even the most complex epilepsy cases.
- Advanced diagnostics: We use the latest technology, including MEG scans and intensive, 24/7 monitoring in our epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU), to plan your child’s treatment. Our team’s expertise in distinguishing epilepsy symptoms helps your child receive the best possible care.
- Virtual care options: We support your child wherever you and your family are, with video visits and other options for virtual care. You have access to quality care with your child’s team without the need for an in-person visit. Learn more about virtual care options at Henry Ford.
Evaluation and diagnosis of epilepsy in children
To rule out other possible causes and confirm an epilepsy diagnosis, we usually order one or more tests. Learn more about our process for epilepsy and seizure evaluation and treatment options at our Comprehensive Epilepsy Center.
Treatment for epilepsy in children
After our evaluation and testing, we bring each child’s case to our weekly team conferences. These meetings bring together experts from several fields of medicine, where we review test results, confirm a diagnosis and recommend treatment options.
Treatment goals are to reduce or stop seizures and treat related conditions, while minimizing possible side effects of medication. We’re committed to care that controls seizures so your child can enjoy a healthy, active life.
Medications to treat epilepsy in children
We begin your child’s treatment with medication. We monitor them closely because each person reacts differently to epilepsy medications. Your child might need to try a few different types and dosages before we find the right combination for their needs.
We have you bring your child in for regular checkups while taking medicine, so that we can see how they’re progressing. We check for side effects and make adjustments as necessary to help your child get the most out of treatment.
Children take the same types of epilepsy medications as adults do. Find out more about epilepsy medications.
Neuropsychological therapy to treat epilepsy in children
In children, epilepsy increases the risk of developing a learning or mood disorder such as depression or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). At Henry Ford, we offer specialized care to manage these conditions so your child can thrive. Learn more about neuropsychology for children and teens.