Outgrowing epilepsy

Pediatrician Wendy Mitchell, MD Neurology, explains the likelihood of a child outgrowing their epilepsy and the factors that increase or decrease those odds
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Outgrowing epilepsy

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Let's answer the first question which is “Will your child outgrow their epilepsy?” If your child has epilepsy because of a remote symptomatic cause, so for example, they have a severe brain injury, they have cerebral palsy, they're multihandicapped, they have a brain anomaly, and they’ve had a lot of seizures, the odds are they won't outgrow it. Fortunately, that’s the exception. Most kids who have had a few seizures, who have a diagnosis of epilepsy or who had many seizures that are petite mal, will outgrow it, and most of the age-related epilepsy, we pretty much know when they're likely to outgrow it. The odds we tell people are if your child has no specifically diagnosable cause of the epilepsy, and they’ve have a fairly easy time getting into control so they get on medications, their control is with the first or probably the second medicine they try and they’ve gone two years of no seizures. The odds are about 70 percent we can successfully take them off medications without having the recurrence of seizures and without them having an adult diagnosis of epilepsy. They're done. It’s over. It’s gone. The converse side of that is if somebody has seizures for a reason where we can identify a brain lesion, we can identify something we can’t fix, they have many, many seizures, has taken three, four or five medicine tries to get them in control, even if you then gone the two years seizure-free, the odds are not as good as 50-50 that you'll get them off medications. So, it depends very, very much on why the child has epilepsy.

Pediatrician Wendy Mitchell, MD Neurology, explains the likelihood of a child outgrowing their epilepsy and the factors that increase or decrease those odds

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Wendy Mitchell, MD

Pediatrician, Neurology, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Wendy Mitchell, MD, is Professor of Clinical Neurology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. She is acting Division Head of Neurology at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, where she has practiced for over 30 years. She is a native of Los Angeles. Her current research interests include cognitive and behavioral aspects of childhood epilepsy, clinical research in anticonvulsants, and a rare immune-mediated syndrome, opsoclonus-myoclonus (or dancing eyes syndrome). In her free time she enjoys scuba diving and yoga.

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