With statistics presented by a study in August 2019 showing that 4-10% of children experience at least 1 seizure in the first 16 years of their life and 5% of children during the first 5 years of life, it is clear that epilepsy in children is not a very uncommon problem. In fact, more than half of the cases of epilepsy start in the childhood itself.
As against the common notion, epilepsy does not affect the intelligence of the children in most cases. “Most children with epilepsies can lead a near normal life but they have to take their medications regularly. 70% of epilepsies are well controlled with medication and the children can manage their day-to-day studies and activities with ease. However, there is a remaining 30% of children who suffer from difficult-to-control epilepsies, primarily due to structural damage in the brain or some other neurological causes, which hinders in day-to-day activities. Unlike the general thought, a majority of children have an intelligence level as that of a normal child whereas only a minority of 20-25% are not so intelligent and may need special help,” clarified Dr. Amit Haldar, Epileptologist and Consultant Neurologist at Fortis Hospital Anandapur
Explaining the key causes for the disorder in children, Dr. Amit Haldar said that the incidence of children with epilepsy is generally due to the following reasons:
Genetic factors and sometimes due to acquired causes like perinatal injuries which take place due to improper antenatal care during birth.
It can also take place due to infections of the brain like encephalitis, meningitis or chromosomal disorders.
There are also some epilepsy syndromes which can occur in early childhood in school-going children, the most significant of which is Childhood Absence Epilepsy along with other syndromes like Juvenile Absence Epilepsy and Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy which are common in the adolescent phase.
Ideally, episodes of epilepsy attack due to structural malfunctions of the brain or some metabolic disorder can present within the first few days of the life, while those due to other factors will present little later after passing of the neonatal stage.
Episodes of seizures in children completely send the parents and family into a state of worry, doctors assure saying that most epilepsies are treatable with the help of medications. “Most epilepsy syndromes are completely treatable and with proper medication, they can go into remission and even the medications can be stopped after a certain time or age. However, having said this, it is cannot be denied that epilepsy due to structural malfunction in the brain or due to perinatal injury to the brain at the time of birth might need lifelong treatment. Also, some epilepsy is refractory to drugs and requires surgical intervention to be cured completely,” explains Dr. Haldar.
So how can one keep the children with epilepsy safe? As per the epileptologist at Fortis, it is important to understand what triggers the seizures so as to avoid the episodes.
One of the common triggers for seizures in people with epilepsy is fasting.
Apart from that, there are some syndromes like Dravet syndrome which is triggered by fever and it most commonly follows vaccination in children due to occurrence of fever.
Sleep deprivation is also one of the triggers for seizure.
Some children also are known to experience episodes of seizure due to a certain frequency of light flashes.
Therefore, depending on what acts as a trigger for one’s child, the parents can be careful to avoid the same.
Thus, with incidence of epilepsy in children being 1 in a 100 children, it is not a very uncommon disorder and to the respite of parents with children with epilepsy, most of its types are treatable with age and appropriate medications.