Afraid Your Child Might Have Epilepsy?
For some kids, he says, "having another seizure may not be worse than being on daily medication."
That's true, says Baram, if the risk of a future seizure is only 50%.
"But what if 5-year-old Johnny has that seizure while crossing the street unsupervised or taking a bath?" she says. "If a child has two seizures within 6 months, I'd tell the parent that the likelihood is very high that the child will have another." And while seizures early in life do not hurt the brain, she says, "they can be really, really scary."
But Shinnar feels that kids run a relatively low risk of being seriously injured during a seizure and should probably stay off medication unless it is absolutely necessary. Plus, he tells WebMD, "70% of kids with epilepsy who do not have mental retardation or cerebral palsy will eventually outgrow their seizures with or without treatment."
This portion of the ongoing study looked specifically at seizures, says Shinnar. His team is now assessing how these children have done in school, at work, in marriage, and in life in general. "We want to see the long-term impact on life," he says. "That's the next phase of research."
The paper appears in the August issue of Annals of Neurology.