Diagnosing epilepsy can be a complex task. As a parent, or a caregiver, you may find yourself having concerns about whether or not your child does have epilepsy. Recognising seizures in babies and infants can be particularly difficult as they cannot communicate with you.
The first thing to note is that there isn’t any singular sign by which a parent might be able to identify epilepsy. Epilepsy presents differently from person to person, and if you have genuine concern we would advise that you refer to a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
However, there are telltale signs that can indicate epilepsy in a child. However, we must stress that each of these could also be behaviours presented by children who do not have epilepsy and noticing any of these individually should not be an instant cause for concern.
In isolation, none of the signs below should be taken as a sign of epilepsy, but if you already have concerns and notice any of these signs, they can help a healthcare professional to make a potential diagnosis. These signs include:
#1 – Blackouts, Short Attention Span or Dazed Behaviour
If you have noticed that your child frequently blacks out or has frequent lapses in attention, it could potentially be a sign of epilepsy. Of course, children, by their very nature, can have a short attention span so it should be no cause for concern until it becomes a noticeable pattern or they have frequent memory gaps or become unresponsive regularly.
#2 – Unusual Movements
Frequent unusual movements, such as irregular head nodding or rapid blinking, could be a potential sign of epilepsy. If you have noticed your child making odd movements intermittently, to the point that it has become concerning, then it would be worthwhile consulting with a healthcare professional.
#3 – Sudden Falls, Stumbling and Clumsiness
Infants are undoubtedly clumsy for the most part as they’re still developing their motor skills, which can make this one very difficult to spot. Some infants will also be more prone to falls and clumsy behaviours than others, which alone is not a cause for concern at all. However, if you already have concerns that your child might have epilepsy, and you have noticed frequent unexpected falls and excessive clumsiness, this is worthwhile mentioning when you speak to a healthcare professional to address your concerns.
#4 – Unusually Tired and Irritable After Sleep
Again, most children can become tired frequently and be irritable after waking. This much could be said of potentially 90% of the infant population. When we talk about tiredness as a potential sign for epilepsy it’s an unusual level of tiredness that far exceeds that of a typical child of their age and a level of irritability that appears excessive.
If you notice any of these 4 signs in your child, and you already have concerns that they may have epilepsy, we would encourage you to tell your doctor. The chances are that these are typical behaviours and your child is healthy, but the doctor should be able to help to alleviate any concerns if so.