Pediatric Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures due to abnormal brain activity. Epileptic seizures can be characterized by brief lapses in awareness, and convulsions in the full body or parts of the body.

“Not all shaking is indicative of epilepsy, seizures, or epileptic seizures. It’s very important to understand the child’s medical history and to conduct an electroencephalographic (EEG) evaluation before making a diagnosis and probably admitting the patient for continuous video EEG monitoring for several days. Many tests are necessary to try to find the cause of epilepsy, including blood tests, brain imaging and genetic testing,” said Carlos Lastra, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurology at The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital.

Beyond seizures, other symptoms of epilepsy include:

  1. Staring Spells: Children with epilepsy may experience sudden moments of absent-mindedness where they seem unresponsive or disconnected from their surroundings. This can be a sign of absence seizures.
  2. Repetitive Movements: Some children with epilepsy may exhibit repetitive movements during a seizure such as chewing, fidgeting, or picking at clothing. These behaviors are often seen during focal seizures.
  3. Changes in Sensation or Behavior: Seizures can sometimes cause changes in a child’s sensory perception or behavior. They may experience sensations such as tingling or numbness in specific body parts, or exhibit sudden changes in mood or behavior like aggression, confusion, or fear.
Loss of Control: Children may experience sudden muscle stiffness or jerking movements, difficulty speaking or understanding language, or loss of bladder or bowel control during a seizure.

The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital has a dedicated 24-hour inpatient epilepsy unit for video EEG monitoring, which is an essential advanced tool in the management of patients with epilepsy. The patient’s seizure events, along with the measurement of the brain’s electrical activity, are recorded simultaneously. This information allows the pediatric neurologists to classify the origin and/or the type of seizures to determine the appropriate treatment.

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