What Can Cause Seizures In Newborns

Diagnosing A Seizure In A Child


Diagnosing a seizure can be tricky. Seizures are over so quickly that your doctor probably will never see your child having one. The first thing a doctor needs to do is rule out other conditions, such as nonepileptic seizures. These may resemble seizures, but are often caused by other factors such as drops in blood sugar or pressure, changes in heart rhythm, or emotional stress.

Your description of the seizure is important to help your doctor with the diagnosis. You should also consider bringing the entire family into the doctor’s office. The siblings of children with epilepsy, even very young kids, may notice things about the seizures that parents may not. Also, you may want to keep a video camera handy so that you can tape your child during a seizure. This may sound like an insensitive suggestion, but a video can help the doctor enormously in making an accurate diagnosis.

Some kinds of seizures, such as absence seizures, are especially difficult to catch because they may be mistaken for daydreaming.

“Nobody misses a grand mal seizure,” says William R. Turk, MD, chief of the Neurology Division at the Nemours Children’s Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. “You can’t help but notice when a person falls to the ground, shakes, and sleeps for three hours.” But absence or staring seizures may go unnoticed for years.

Can Subsequent Febrile Seizures Be Prevented

The majority of children with febrile seizures to not need medication. Experts recommend that children who have experienced a febrile seizure not take any antiseizure medication to prevent future seizures, as the side effects of these daily medications outweigh any benefits. This is especially true since most febrile seizures are brief and harmless.

Children especially prone to febrile seizures may be treated with medication, such as diazepam, when they have a fever. This medication may lower the risk of having another febrile seizure. It is usually well tolerated, although it occasionally can cause drowsiness, a lack of coordination, or hyperactivity. Children vary widely in their susceptibility to such side effects.

A child whose first febrile seizure is a prolonged one does not necessarily have a higher risk of having reoccurring prolonged seizures. But if they do have another seizure, it is likely to be prolonged. Because very long febrile seizures are associated with the potential for injury and an increased risk of developing epilepsy, some doctors may prescribe medication to these children to prevent prolonged seizures. The parents of children who have experienced a long febrile may wish to talk to their doctor about this treatment option.

How Can I Help My Child During A Seizure

There are a few key steps to take if you think your infant is having a seizure. Parents Magazine recommends the following to keep your baby as safe as possible during a seizure :

  • Make sure your infant is protected from experiencing injuries by moving hard objects out of the way.
  • Gently roll your baby onto their side to help prevent choking.
  • Avoid trying to open the babys mouth, putting anything in their mouth, holding them, or preventing movements .

For detailed advice on when to call 911, please see these recommendations from the CDC or the Epilepsy Foundation.

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What Causes Seizures In Newborns

If youre the parent of a newborn, few things are more frightening than your child having a seizure. What caused it? Will it happen again? Did it cause any lasting harm to the baby? Are there underlying problems that led to the seizure?

True neonatal seizures are those that occur within 28 days of birth, but of course, any seizure in an infant or child is a matter worth checking out with a doctor. Some seizures may be difficult to detect in newborns, because they are brief and because newborns, of course, dont have control over their muscles as an adult or older child would. In fact, many of the signs of seizures are also movements that a typical newborn might make. A good rule of thumb is to not panic, but to speak with your pediatrician. If you are able, videotape the suspected seizure activity to show your doctor in case he or she isnt able to witness a suspected seizure.

Some indications of a seizure in a newborn or young infant include:

If you start to get a feeling that your babys movements are not normal, or someone else comments on it, dont ignore it. It is worth checking out with your babys doctor. If it turns out to be nothing, you will have peace of mind if what you are witnessing turns out to be seizure activity, your doctor can begin guiding you through the process of diagnosis and treatment.

Neonatal Seizures And Birth Injury Attorneys Call Us Now

Epilepsy and Seizures in Children

If your child was born with neonatal seizures, you may be entitled to compensation on his behalf as long as we, your experienced birth injury attorneys can show that the physicians were negligent and therefore failed to prevent said seizures from happening. Want to know more? Please call us NOW at 825-3605 to learn more about your legal options. Thanks, and we look forward to helping you.

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Symptoms And Signs Of Neonatal Seizure Disorders

Neonatal seizures are usually focal and may be difficult to distinguish from normal neonatal activity because they may manifest as chewing or bicycling movements. Common manifestations include migratory clonic jerks of extremities, alternating hemiseizures, and primitive subcortical seizures . Generalized tonic-clonic seizures are uncommon.

Clinically silent electrical seizure activity is often present after a hypoxic-ischemic insult and in neonates with CNS infections, especially after initial antiseizure drug treatment, which is more likely to stop clinical manifestations than electrical seizure activity.

Neonatal Seizures What Causes Seizures In A Newborn And Is A Seizure The Sign Of Medical Malpractice

Neonatal seizures are caused by abnormal and excessive electrical activity in the brain. Most seizures occur within the first week of a babys life, and they often are a result of a birth injury that transpired during delivery. The injuries causing seizures can be avoidable thus when they occur, they may be a result of negligent care during the birth process.

If negligent care was administered during delivery, or if a doctor, nurse, or other medical personnel failed to address a neonatal seizure and your child suffered a permanent injury, your child may be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering, damages, and other injuries that result .

We can help in cases of suspected birth injury due to medical malpractice. We retain physicians and other medical experts to carefully review the medical charts and other matters associated with the cases of our clients. If it appears that medical malpractice likely occurred, we pursue healthcare providers for the full damages caused by their negligence.

We advance the costs of litigation these costs are then typically repaid through a settlement or successful trial award. We represent clients in birth injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that we are only entitled to a fee if we are successful in obtaining compensation.

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What Are Febrile Seizures

Having a febrile seizure does not mean a child has epilepsy, since that disorder is characterized by reoccurring seizures that are not triggered by fever.

If a child has a fever, most parents will use fever-lowering drugs such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to make the child more comfortable. However, studies show this does not reduce the risk of having another febrile seizure.


Most febrile seizures last only a few minutes and are accompanied by a fever above 101°F . Young children between the ages of about 6 months and 5 years old are the most likely to experience febrile seizures. Children are at the greatest risk of having a febrile seizure at age 2. Symptoms may include:

  • The child will lose consciousness
  • Both arms and legs will shake uncontrollably
  • Eye rolling
  • Rigid limbs

Sometimes during a febrile seizure, a child may lose consciousness but will not noticeably shake or move.


Although they can be frightening for parents, brief febrile seizures do not cause any long-term health problems. However, if another does occur, it is more likely to be prolonged. A prolonged initial febrile seizure does not substantially boost the risk of reoccurring febrile seizures. Even prolonged seizures are generally harmless but do carry an increased risk of developing epilepsy.

How Are Seizures Treated In A Child

What to do when your child has a seizure | Canadian Red Cross

The goal of treatment is to control, stop, or reduce how often seizuresoccur. Treatment is most often done with medicine. Many types ofmedicines used to treat seizures and epilepsy. Your childs healthcareprovider will need to identify the type of seizure your child ishaving. Medicines are selected based on the type of seizure, age of thechild, side effects, cost, and ease of use. Medicines used at home areusually taken by mouth as capsules, tablets, sprinkles, or syrup. Somemedicines can be given into the rectum or in the nose. If your child isin the hospital with seizures, medicine may be given by injection orintravenously by vein .

It is important to give your child medicine on time and as prescribed.The dose may need to be adjusted for the best seizure control. Allmedicines can have side effects. Talk with your childs healthcareprovider about possible side effects. If your child has side effects,talk to the healthcare provider. Do not stop giving medicine to yourchild. This can cause more or worse seizures.

While your child is taking medicine, he or she may need tests to seehow well the medicine is working. You may have:

Your child may not need medicine for life. Some children are taken offmedicine if they have had no seizures for 1 to 2 years. This will bedetermined by your child’s healthcare provider.

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What Should Be Done For A Child Having A Febrile Seizure

Parents and caretakers should remain calm, take first aid measures, and carefully observe the child. If a child is having a febrile seizure, parents and caregivers should do the following:

  • Note the start time of the seizure. If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, call an ambulance. The child should be taken immediately to the nearest medical facility for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Gradually place the child on a protected surface such as the floor or ground to prevent accidental injury. Do not restrain or hold a child during a convulsion.
  • Position the child on his or her side or stomach to prevent choking. When possible, gently remove any objects from the childs mouth. Nothing should ever be placed in the child’s mouth during a seizure. These objects can obstruct the child’s airway and make breathing difficult.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if this is the childs first febrile seizure and take the child to the doctor once the seizure has ended to check for the cause of the fever. This is especially urgent if the child shows symptoms of stiff neck, extreme lethargy, or abundant vomiting, which may be signs of meningitis, an infection over the brain surface.

Diagnosis Of Neonatal Seizure Disorders

  • Electroencephalography

  • Laboratory testing

  • Usually cranial imaging

Evaluation begins with a detailed family history and a physical examination.

Jitteriness must be distinguished from true seizure activity. Jitteriness is usually stimulus-induced and can be stopped by holding the extremity still in contrast, seizures occur spontaneously, and motor activity is felt even when the extremity is held still.

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Other Signs Of Birth Injury

Seizures after birth are one sign that a birth injury may have occurred, but they are not the only sign. The following signs may also be cause for concern and warrant further investigation:

  • The baby is pale or blue in color after delivery
  • The baby has trouble breathing after delivery
  • The babys heart rate is abnormal around the time of birth
  • The baby requires resuscitation to help with breathing or heart rate
  • The baby has a low Apgar score at one minute and/or at five minutes after birth
  • The baby has an umbilical cord blood gas reading that is abnormal
  • The baby is sluggish or lethargic
  • The baby has difficulty with or no interest in feeding
  • The baby has odd movements in the face, arms, or legs
  • The baby favors one side of the body

Diagnosing Epilepsy In New

Neonatal Seizures

If its suspected that your baby might have epilepsy, its important they are referred to a specialist. This should be a doctor who has specialist training in diagnosing and treating epilepsy in this age group. The specialist will ask whether:

  • There are any changes in your babys behaviour
  • All the seizures look the same, and last the same length of time
  • The seizures happen while the baby is awake or asleep, or both
  • The seizures are caused by changes in the babys posture, or when they are doing different things
  • The seizures interfere with, or stop, the babys activities, such as feeding
  • You can stop the seizures after they have started

You could help the specialist by recording any behaviour changes on your mobile phone. The specialist may arrange for some, or all of, the following tests:

  • Blood and urine tests. These are to check the babys general health, and to look for any medical conditions that might be causing their seizures. They can also be used to find out if the seizures are not caused by epilepsy, but another medical condition. An example would be low blood sugar or low calcium levels
  • MRI scan

Epilepsy Action has more information about diagnosing epilepsy

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Prognosis For Neonatal Seizure Disorders

Prognosis depends on the etiology:

  • About 50% of neonates with seizures due to hypoxia-ischemia develop normally.

  • Most neonates with seizures due to subarachnoid hemorrhage, hypocalcemia, or hyponatremia do well.

  • Those with severe intraventricular hemorrhage have a high morbidity rate.

  • For idiopathic seizures or seizures due to malformations, earlier onset is associated with worse neurodevelopmental outcomes.

It is suspected, but not proved, that prolonged or frequent neonatal seizures may cause damage beyond that caused by the underlying disorder. There is concern that the metabolic stress of prolonged nerve cell firing during lengthy seizures may cause additional brain damage. When caused by acute injuries to the brain such as hypoxia-ischemia, stroke, or infection, neonates may have a series of seizures, but seizures typically abate after about 3 to 4 days they may recur months to years later if brain damage has occurred. Seizures due to other conditions may be more persistent during the neonatal period.

Treatment Of The Cause

For low serum glucose, 10% dextrose 2 mL/kg IV is given, and the serum glucose level is monitored additional infusions are given as needed but cautiously, to avoid hyperglycemia.

For hypocalcemia, 10% calcium gluconate 1 mL/kg IV is given this dosage can be repeated for persistent hypocalcemic seizures. Rate of calcium gluconate infusion should not exceed 0.5 mL/minute continuous cardiac monitoring is necessary during the infusion. Extravasation should be avoided because skin may slough.

For hypomagnesemia, 0.2 mL/kg of a 50% magnesium sulfate solution is given IM.

Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.

Herpes encephalitis is treated with acyclovir.

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