Seizures, especially in childhood, may cause autism
The greatest risk for developing autism for children with epilepsy is among children whose seizures begin at age two or earlier.
Seizures cause seizures
Just like a tiny little spark can kindle a raging forest fire, even the smallest, seemingly benign electrical activity in the brain can escalate into generalized convulsions. This phenomenon, known as kindling, causes the seizures to spread to other parts of the brain. These seizures often take over the motor cortex in stages and can eventually impair the child’s ability to walk and speak.
Seizures can cause sudden unexplained death due to epilepsy (SUDEP)
Sudden unexplained death due to epilepsy (also known as SUDEP) is a serious risk for any child with drug-resistant seizures. SUDEP is the unexpected death of an otherwise healthy person with epilepsy, where no cause of death has been found. Causes of SUDEP are still unknown, but some research points to cardiac or respiratory dysfunction caused by seizures or abnormal EEG patterns.
The death can occur after a seizure or unrelated to seizure (known as non-seizure SUDEP). The chances of a person with epilepsy dying due to SUDEP is 1 in 1,000; however, this risk increases significantly if the person has drug-resistant epilepsy. For a child with drug-resistant epilepsy, the chances of dying due to SUDEP is 1 in 150.
Some conditions are drug resistant by their very nature. Epilepsy surgery should be considered sooner rather than later.
There are many brain malformations and other epilepsies known to be drug resistant by their very nature – this means that there are currently no known drugs, or drug combinations, which will stop seizures caused by these conditions. For example, Rasmussen’s encephalitis is considered a drug-resistant condition.
In rare circumstances, some children with hemimegalencephaly, polymicrogyria, and other cortical dysplasias may find seizure control; however, these conditions are generally known to be drug resistant.
Don’t wait. If your child has drug-resistant epilepsy, ask your child’s neurologist or epileptologist for a referral to a level 4 pediatric epilepsy surgery facility to discuss whether your child might be a candidate for epilepsy surgery.