Epilepsy in infants: symptoms of seizures up to a year

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Epilepsy in infants: symptoms of seizures up to a year

Epilepsy in infants can be associated with a hereditary predisposition or intrauterine developmental problems. With the right therapy, remission is possible.

Etiology of the disease

Epilepsy in newborns can occur for the following reasons:

  • Heredity. According to statistics, if both parents are sick, then the child will be born with pathology in 90% of cases. If only one of the parents is sick, this percentage will be lower, but the likelihood of having a sick baby will also be very high.
  • Complications during pregnancy. If the fetus does not receive enough nutrients, is not properly positioned, or the mother is sick with something, it is highly likely that he will be born with various abnormalities.
  • Complicated labor. If the process is delayed, oxygen starvation can occur. The brain of the child can suffer from this.
  • Birth trauma. As a result, neural connections in the brain can be broken, which leads to the formation of foci of epileptic activity.
  • Postpartum trauma. Do not drop the baby, as this can lead to head injuries. At the same time, the symptoms of epilepsy in infants will not appear immediately, but when scar tissue forms in the cerebral cortex.
  • Infectious diseases. The baby’s body is very delicate and sensitive, so it can easily pick up an infection. To avoid the development of otitis media and meningitis, the baby must wear a hat.

With epilepsy, epileptic foci are formed in the brain. They can affect it completely or only separate parts. Different forms of the disease are distinguished from this.

Symptoms of manifestation

Those who first encounter epilepsy can be very shocked. Indeed, in most cases, attacks look frightening and are accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Consciousness is switched off. The child can play, smile or even cry, but then he abruptly calms down.
  • Babies may have seizures when they have an epileptic seizure. The arms and legs may bend unnaturally, and the small body may shake violently. The muscles spasm and become hard. Convulsions can affect the entire body, only one part of the body, only one limb, or not at all.
  • The eyes roll back over the eyelids.
  • Respiration changes are observed. Your baby may start to breathe too quickly and too loudly. Or vice versa, his breathing slows down, it seems that the child is not breathing.
  • The pupils are dilated, do not respond to changes in light.

However, not all forms of epilepsy have these symptoms. Often, the signs of epilepsy in infants are almost imperceptible, so sometimes parents do not pay enough attention to them. But as soon as the baby’s behavior has changed, you need to see a specialist.

There is also the so-called aura or precursors of epilepsy. They appear about a day before the attack. The kid becomes moody, cries constantly, refuses to eat.

 Minor seizures

In this case, epileptic foci extend only to a part of the brain. Minor seizures include the following types of epilepsy:

  • Propulsive seizure. Most often it is the result of a birth injury. With such a seizure, the baby bends the head and torso. The attack lasts only a few seconds. However, there may be several repetitions per day.
  • Retropulsive . The kid loses consciousness. His eyes are closed, and the body remains in the same position in which it was. It seems that the child has just fallen asleep.
  • Impulsive seizure. How to define this type of epilepsy in infants? The kid remains conscious. However, from time to time this or that part of the body trembles, as impulses from the brain are sent to it.

Minor seizures can be observed even during sleep. If epilepsy is accompanied by seizures, you need to make sure that the baby sleeps only in the crib. There should be no solid objects near him that he can hit.


The symptoms of epilepsy in infants can be very severe. This happens with a generalized or large seizure. The whole body is attacked by convulsions, the baby bends, his legs and arms can perform sharp chaotic movements. The face turns pale, foam comes out of the mouth, involuntary defecation is possible.

The danger of such an attack is that the baby can hit due to strong convulsions. Babies who have already erupted their teeth can bite their tongue hard. This can lead to a lot of blood loss. To avoid this, during an attack, the baby should be laid on a soft pillow, and a special biting device should be placed in the mouth.

Features of the manifestation of night attacks

Nighttime attacks are less symptomatic because brain activity is less intense during sleep. In addition, such seizures can only occur during certain periods, due to which they are divided into several subspecies:

  • Night early. They are observed 2 hours after the baby has fallen asleep.
  • Early. Takes place an hour before waking up.
  • Morning. An hour after waking up.
  • Mixed.

Another feature is that tonic convulsions are replaced by tonic-clonic ones, after which the baby falls asleep. In the tonic phase, erratic body movements appear. Due to the spasm, the chest becomes motionless, the baby breathes very slowly and soundlessly. This phase lasts 20-30 seconds.

Then the clonic period begins, in which saliva spontaneously flows out of the baby’s mouth, the limbs tremble, urination is possible. This period lasts 1-5 minutes.

As a result, the baby’s sleep is disturbed, he becomes restless, crying. In older children, nocturnal epilepsy leads to nightmares.


How is infant epilepsy diagnosed? In infancy, this is quite problematic to do. EEG monitoring is mandatory . With its help, it is determined where the foci of pathological activity are located in the baby’s brain. CT or MRI of the brain may also be done. With the help of these studies, it is possible to determine if there are tumors, cysts and infectious diseases of the brain that have led to epilepsy. 

First aid

If a minor seizure has occurred, no special measures need to be taken. You just need to stay close to the baby until the attack is over.

And in case of large attacks, it is recommended to provide first aid. The attack usually occurs suddenly. An adult with the child should do the following:

  • Stay calm. You cannot panic, otherwise the baby can only be harmed this way.
  • Place something soft under the child’s head and turn it on its side. If the attack happened on the street, you can fold your jacket and put it under your head.
  • If the attack is accompanied by severe convulsions, the head must be held, otherwise the baby may hit it.
  • It is necessary to remove clothes from the baby so that the neck does not squeeze him, as this can interfere with breathing.
  • Open the window to allow fresh air to enter the room.
  • Roll up the handkerchief several times and put it in the baby’s mouth, otherwise he may bite his tongue. It is strictly forbidden to put fingers in his mouth – during an attack, he can bite them until they bleed.
  • If the baby’s breathing stops and he starts to turn blue, artificial ventilation will need to be done.

Until the baby comes to his senses, you need to monitor him. You can’t leave him alone. It is also forbidden to give any medications until the attack is over.

Then the baby must be placed in the crib. Usually, after an attack, breathing evens out and deep sleep sets in. There is a chance that a second attack will occur. Therefore, you should not leave the child unattended for 2-3 hours.

If the seizure occurs for the first time, you must call an ambulance. In addition, a doctor’s examination is necessary if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes or the baby has received some kind of injury during the seizure.


Children with congenital epilepsy require long-term treatment with anticonvulsants. Monotherapy is practiced when one drug is selected. At first, its dosages are small, but they are gradually increased.

Non-drug methods of therapy can also be used – psychotherapy, hormonal treatment, ketogenic diet.

Surgical methods are rarely used. The operation can be prescribed for the treatment of resistant forms of epilepsy. For this, temporal lobectomy , temporal resection, hemispherectomy and other methods can be prescribed .


Timely started treatment allows you to control the seizures of childhood epilepsy. Timely intake of antiepileptic drugs will help achieve sustained remission. The child will be able to attend kindergarten, then school and lead a normal life.

If remission is observed for 3-4 years, the doctor may stop taking medications. In 60% of patients, after such treatment, seizures do not recur.

Prevention measures

It is necessary to start the prevention of epilepsy even at the stage of pregnancy planning. It is necessary to follow all the doctor’s recommendations, take medications, so that the pregnancy is successful.

It is necessary to give birth to an experienced obstetrician, which reduces the risk of birth injuries. In the first year of life, you need to regularly visit a doctor, dress your baby well, and avoid any falls. If manifestations of epilepsy appear in infants up to a year, treatment will need to be started immediately. You need to regularly visit an epileptologist , follow his recommendations. The sooner therapy is started, the more chances that the disease will not develop into a more resistant form.

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