Epilepsy in childhood.
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Anticonvulsants (Dosage and administration)
Epilepsy in children (Risk factors)
Epilepsy in children (Diagnosis)
Epilepsy in children (Drug therapy)
Epilepsy in children (Prognosis)
Author: Cowper, Anne
Pub Date: 03/22/2007
Publication: Name: Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism Publisher: National Herbalists Association of Australia Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2007 National Herbalists Association of Australia ISSN: 1033-8330
Issue: Date: Spring, 2007 Source Volume: 19 Source Issue: 1
Product: Product Code: 2834240 Anticonvulsant Preparations NAICS Code: 325412 Pharmaceutical Preparation Manufacturing SIC Code: 2834 Pharmaceutical preparations
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia
Accession Number: 174818470
Full Text: Mackay M. 2006. Epilepsy in childhood and adolescence. MedToday 7:4;33-41.

Epilepsy affects approximately 1% of children and adolescents, with the highest incidence occurring in the first year of life. An epileptic seizure is caused by an abnormal synchronized electrical discharge from neurons. In children it is important to determine whether it is provoked by a head trauma, hypoglycemia or an electrolyte disturbance. A single seizure does not constitute a diagnosis of epilepsy.

Taking a careful history is crucial to making a correct diagnosis. Was there pain or fear, was the child standing or sitting for a long period suggesting postural hypotension. In infants and preschoolers, breath holding spells can be mistaken for seizures. Breath holding can be associated with iron deficiency. Tics and sleep myclonus can be mistaken for seizures.

General treatment includes avoidance of precipitating factors such as sleep deprivation. Parents should be counseled about taking safety precautions, particularly supervising their children when bathing or swimming. Seizures rarely last more than 3 minutes and parents should be reassured that short seizures do not cause brain damage.

Anticonvulsant medications are usually commenced after two or more unprovoked afebrile seizures. About 20 to 30% of children do not respond to treatment. Surgery offers the best hope for these patients. Other treatment options include the ketogenic diet, brain stimulation and immunotherapies.

Childhood epilepsy generally has a good prognosis, with around two thirds of patients responding to treatment and more than half ultimately outgrowing their epilepsy.

Anne Cowper

PO Box 45, Concord West NSW 2138

Email ajmh@nhaa.org.au
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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