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Dr. Elizabeth Thiele

Elizabeth Thiele, MD, PhD
Epileptologist, MGH

This is a transcript of a video from the Growing Up with Epilepsy Web site. For more information visit

Dr. Elizabeth Thiele: When a child is diagnosed with epilepsy, we try to identify the underlying cause. So we look at the child's brain with MRI scan. We often do blood work if we're looking for some other associated disorder. Unfortunately, many children with epilepsy, we are not able to identify the cause. We think that this might mean that there is an area of their brain that's a little bit different, leading to abnormal electrical activity, but not enough different that we're able to see that difference or that abnormality on MRI. We also believe that some children probably do have some genetic cause of their epilepsy, even if it does not run in their family, if it's just in that child, that there might be a change at the level of their DNA that causes them to have epilepsy. And many of those things we do not have the tools or the knowledge to test for.