A seizure is abnormal electrical activity in the brain. It may be mild or severe and cause problems, such as jerking motions of the limbs or body. It can be a symptom or a side effect of a more serious health problem.
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Sometimes the cause is not known. Some common causes are:
Things that may raise a child's risk of seizure are:
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests may be taken. The fluid around your child's spine may also be tested. This can be done with a lumbar puncture.
Images may be taken of the child's brain. This can be done with:
The child's brain activity may be tested. This can be done with an EEG.
Some seizures will not need to be treated. Most children will outgrow seizures caused by fever by about 5 years of age.
Other seizures may stop once the underlying cause is treated. The child may need to stay at a hospital until seizures are controlled. Treatments to help control seizures may include:
Anti-seizure medicine can reduce the number of seizures or stop them completely. It may be given by IV for severe or frequent seizures. Pills can be given for seizures that are more sporadic.
Some seizures may not respond well to medicine. Other possible treatments include:
There are no known ways to prevent seizures.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
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Hogan T. Seizure disorders in childhood. Loyola University Medical Education Network website. Available at:
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Accessed January 3, 2020.
Kimia AA, Bachur RG, et al. Febrile seizures: emergency medicine perspective. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2015 Jun;27(3):292-297.
Neonatal seizures. Intensive Care Nursery Staff House Manual. UCSF Children's Hospital website. Available at: https://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/pdf/manuals/48_Seizures.pdf. Published 2004. Accessed January 3, 2020.
Seizure in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/seizure-in-children. Updated August 8, 2018. Accessed January 3, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 7/21/2020