Kids and epilepsy



November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Epilepsy is prevalent worldwide.

Jade Elliott sits down with Margo Thurman, Executive Director, Epilepsy Foundation of Utah, on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast to discuss epilepsy, when it begins and some of the causes.

In the U. S., 3.4 million have epilepsy. In Utah, approximately 30,000. Worldwide there are 65 million people living with epilepsy.  33 1/3 % of those with autism have epilepsy and 1 in every 5 of those with TBI have epilepsy. There are approximately 470,000 children under 17 years of age in the U.S. have active epilepsy.

What is epilepsy?

  • Epilepsy is the most common brain disorder – with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. Any one of us can get epilepsy.
  • Epilepsy is complex and there are many different types of epilepsy. Seizures are a symptom of epilepsy.

When does epilepsy begin for most people?

  • Epilepsy can begin at any age.
  • About 50 % of cases begin in infancy, childhood and adolescence

What are some causes of epilepsy? Causes before age 1 can include:

  • a newborn illness;
  • abnormal brain development;
  • a genetic disorder;
  • encephalitis (infection of brain)
  • meningitis (infection of membranes covering the brain)
  • febrile illness related seizures (febrile seizures)

What are febrile seizures?

  • Children 3 months to 6 years may have seizures with a high fever, these are called febrile seizures. This is more likely to happen to children with a family history of febrile seizures.
  • Febrile Seizures occur in 2% to 5% of all children – (2 to 5 out of 100 children)
  • Among children who have their first seizure before their 1st birthday, 50 % will have at least one more.

What can parents do if their child has a febrile seizure?

  • If child has frequent febrile seizures, talk to your health care team about the best approach to prevent/treat seizures.

Can febrile seizures be cured?

  • Children have best chance of becoming seizure free if they have early intervention with a specialist trained in epilepsy and seizures.

What is the basic thing to remember when a seizure happens?

  • If your child has a febrile seizure, administer seizure first aid — Stay, Safe, Side
  • Stay with your child and start timing seizure
  • Keep your child Safe by moving them away from harmful objects
  • Turn them on their side and place something small and soft under their head
  • If seizures last longer than 5 minutes call 911 or take them to the emergency room
  • If your child is walking around, carefully follow them

To contact the Epilepsy Foundation of Utah, call 801-455-6089 or email utah@efa.org

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.


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