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Risk Factors for Epilepsy

A risk factor increases your chance of an illness. It does not mean you will get sick. However, the more risk factors you have, the better your chance of epilepsy. Some people will also have epilepsy even though they have no risk factors.

Risk factors for epilepsy include:

Medical Conditions

Any injury to the brain can increase your risk. Brain injury can be caused by:

Side View of the Brain

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Genetic Factors

Changes in certain genes can increase the risk of epilepsy. These abnormal genes are present at birth.


There are different causes and types of seizures. Certain types are more or less likely based on your age.

Factors in Children

Brains grow and develop in young children. High fever and poor nutrition can affect their brains. Children with these factors may have a higher risk of epilepsy.

Other Factors

Other factors that can increase your risk of epilepsy include:


Epilepsy in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115086/Epilepsy-in-adults. Updated December 8, 2016. Accessed February 6, 2017.

Epilepsy in children. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900174/Epilepsy-in-children. Updated December 8, 2016. Accessed February 6, 2017.

Epilepsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Epilepsy-Information-Page. Accessed February 6, 2017.

Quet F, Guerchet M, Pion SD, Ngoungou EB, Nicoletti A, Preux PM. Meta-analysis of the association between cysticercosis and epilepsy in Africa. Epilepsia. 2010;51(5):830-837.

Seizure disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/seizure-disorders/seizure-disorders. Updated June 2016. Accessed February 6, 2017.

What are the risk factors? Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at: http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-101/what-are-risk-factors. Accessed February 6, 2017.

Last reviewed February 2018 by Rimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated: 8/24/2018