Neonatal seizures are typically characterized as seizures that occur within the first month of life. A seizure for a baby is often harder to detect than adult seizures—an example of a seizure in a 6-day old can be found here.
Types of Seizures
When seizures are suspected, infants can sometimes be tested with electroencephalographs (EEG), which evaluate electrical activity in the brain. If the testing is performed at the same time as a seizure, doctors can learn important information about the type of seizure and the originating part of the brain.
- Subtle seizures: blinking or rapid side-to-side eye movement, leg bicycling, mouth smacking movements
- Clonic seizures: slow, rhythmic jerking on one side of the body
- Myoclonic seizures: repetitive jerking
- Tonic seizures: eye may move upward, breathing may temporarily stop
Causes of Neonatal Seizures
Neonatal seizures have many potential causes, including metabolic disorders, infections, and malformation syndromes. Seizures are also a potential sign that the baby experienced bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage).
Another possible cause of seizures is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which means that the baby suffered fetal distress while in the womb. These seizures often occur within the first three days of life. Babies who have HIE-related seizures are sometimes later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Treatment of Neonatal Seizures
The most common treatment for neonatal seizures is phenobarbital, and anti-seizure medication. Other drugs include phenytoin and lorazepam. If seizures continue as the child grows older, some doctors may include dietary restrictions, or may recommend surgery to remove brain tissue at the originating point of the seizures.
Approximately 50% of babies who have seizures and survive have some level of neurological disability. Seizures are closely linked with cerebral palsy. For many infants, the seizures will resolve on their own or with medication soon after birth. For others, however, seizures may continue. The presence of seizures long-term is also associated with a lower life expectancy.
If your child had seizures soon after birth, it is possible that he or she suffered a brain injury shortly before birth. Brain injuries caused by lack of blood or oxygen are often the cause of medical malpractice, and your child may be entitled to file a birth injury lawsuit that will help provide a lifetime of medical and specialized care. For more information, contact our birth injury lawyers at (440) 252-4399.