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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Treatment Options for Pediatric Epilepsy

When you bring your child to us for epilepsy care, you can expect a treatment plan that is unique to your child's needs. After conducting a comprehensive evaluation and diagnostic testing, we will determine the best treatment options for your child. Our expert, multidisciplinary team will collaborate to develop an individualized treatment plan with the goal of effectively and efficiently controlling your child’s seizures with as few side effects as possible.

Treatment options may include:

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Ketogenic diets
  • Psychological care
  • Therapy
  • Counseling and support

Personalized Epilepsy Care for Each Child and Family

We understand that most parents know their children better than anyone else. You, as your child’s parent or guardian, are part of our team, and we welcome your input and opinions throughout evaluation and treatment. We want to make sure you fully understand the treatment plan we are recommending and all of the options that are available.

We also consider other important criteria, such as:

  • The impact of epilepsy on your child’s and your family's quality of life
  • Your child’s ability to tolerate different treatment options
  • How well we expect different treatment options to work for your child

Treatments We Offer for Pediatric Epilepsy

Medication

Medication is the most common treatment for epilepsy. It is almost always the first line of treatment for children who have epilepsy. When we're able to determine the root cause and type of epilepsy and the type of seizure, we use medication specifically suited to your child's seizures. We start by prescribing the lowest dosage of medication that effectively controls his or her seizures.

During treatment, we will regularly check medication levels and monitor the medication’s effectiveness to make sure the treatment is working as intended. If necessary, we will change the dosage depending on levels and symptoms. We use a number of tests to determine whether your child’s medications are working well. These tests may include:

  • Blood tests to check medication levels in the body and to monitor how or if the medication is having negative effects on the organs of the body
  • Urinalysis to find out how your child’s body is handling the medication
  • Electroencephalography (EEG) to find out whether the medication is helping or altering the electrical activity in your child’s brain

Surgery

Surgery usually is not the first option for children who have epilepsy. However, we may recommend surgery when medications are not effectively controlling a child's seizures. For children who meet certain medical criteria, we offer a full range of surgical treatment options for pediatric epilepsy.

Ketogenic diets

For some children, we recommend a medical diet, called a ketogenic diet, to help control seizures when medication alone is not working. Ketogenic diets have been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920s, and have become more frequently prescribed since the 1990s. Despite the effectiveness and a relatively low occurrence of serious side effects, parents should not start a child on this medical diet without specific recommendation, instruction and supervision from the child's neurologist.

Psychological testing and support

Some children with epilepsy experience psychological symptoms that may improve with treatment. If you think your child may be experiencing psychological difficulties, we may perform tests to help diagnose the problems so we can help treat them. Our team includes neuropsychologists who can help determine the best course of evaluation and treatment.

Therapy

Sometimes we recommend physical and/or occupational therapy for children who have epilepsy. If your child has trouble with physical or motor skill, our team will work together to come up with a plan to help your child improve function and get stronger.

Counseling and support

Having epilepsy can be frightening for children and adults. Many children experience anxiety, worrying that they might have another seizure or wondering what will happen if they do. Sometimes children are teased because of their seizures. If your child has had seizures or has been diagnosed with epilepsy, our team can offer counseling and support. We have social workers and child life specialists on staff to help you, your child, and your family find healthy, effective ways to cope with epilepsy.