Epilepsy in children

BangkokHospital

Epilepsy in children – unavoidable but curable   

All parents want to see their children grow up with normal intellectual and physical development. But sometimes an unexpected illness can occur in childhood through genetic transmission.   

In 2010, a healthy women gave birth to a little cute child who later transpired to be epileptic. She recorded her experience coming to terms with the child’s condition in a personal diary which should provide other parents in a similar position with encouragement to persevere and make the right decisions for their children. 

“When our little angel was born and we brought her home, we were so happy and gave her all the love.  She responded like a normal child but a strange thing happened when she was two or three months old. One night, I noticed her left leg jerk suddenly three times. Then she had body contractions and saliva frothed from her mouth. We immediately rushed her to the Hospital.”

“After an MRI scan, the doctor said my daughter had tuberous sclerosis. He explained that it is a genetic disorder where the symptoms are seizures, intellectual disability and developmental delay. The child was given anti-epileptic drugs. An operation was required to reduce the seizures and medicines have to be taken to improve her quality of life.”

“As parents, of course we worried about the operation but after being given all the details by the doctor – the pros and cons, the effects and possible outcomes from the operation – we decided to go ahead. We had confidence in the surgical team at Bangkok Hospital.”

“The operation was successful and the child stayed at the hospital for two weeks. We appreciated the professional care and warm service that the doctors unfailingly provided, always being sensitive to our anxiety and answering all our questions.”

“As time went by, I noticed that her seizures steadily became less. She became able to perform her daily routines by herself, including feeding herself, brushing her teeth, speaking, responding quickly, being cheerful, singing, dancing and playing with friends.” 

“Now, she is four years old, she can go to school and progress. For parents to raise a special child requires extra patience. But what we get from this experience is the ability to cope with the situation and just see it as another challenge in life to overcome.”

Dr. Yotin Chinvarun, Neurologic System and Epilepsy Expert, Epilepsy Clinic, Bangkok Hospital, said that epilepsy can begin at any time of life but is most common in children and elderly people. There is about a 1.5%-1.8% chance of the disease occurring.

 “Seizures are not always a sign of epilepsy. Symptoms vary depending on the seizure focus. i.e. the area of the brain they affect. For example, if the seizures affect the brain area that controls the arms, that is where you see the jerks. Or it may be the legs, hands, face or one or other side of the body. If the seizures affect the area of the brain that controls memory and behaviour, symptoms can be absent-mindedness, inaction and unresponsiveness.” 

“A first seizure should always be evaluated by a doctor immediately. Parents should record as much detail of the event as possible as it will help the doctor determine whether it was a seizure and whether it is likely to recur.”

“At Bangkok Hospital, using new technology tools; EEG source localization, SPECT, PET, and advance technique EEG-fMRI enable doctors to uncover the regions of the brain showing changes in metabolism and blood flow in response to epileptic spikes which is used for presurgical evaluation and planning for epilepsy surgery.”