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Childhood Epilepsy

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: Epilepsy in childhood is not the same as epilepsy in adulthood. Although seizure types can be the same, the causes of seizures are very different between adults and children. Epilepsy syndromes that we think of typically have onset in childhood, and many are resolved, or the children outgrow them, by adulthood. Also, treating seizures in children is very different than treating adults. The children respond differently to medications and have different side effects, so it's very different thing to treat a child with epilepsy than treat an adult with epilepsy. In addition, a child with epilepsy is a child who is learning and developing and trying to understand their world, so we worry a lot about how children with epilepsy fare doing that and how much the seizures and the treatment for the seizures are impacting their ability to learn and develop. Another difference between epilepsy in children and adult is frequency. Many of our kids have hundreds of seizures per day, and it's quite unusual for adult with epilepsy to have seizures of that frequency.