The most common neurological condition in children, pediatric epilepsy is defined as two or more seizures that occur more than 24 hours apart. Causes include traumatic brain injury, birth defects, brain tumors, hydrocephalus, infections, stroke and abnormal blood vessels in the brain. In some cases, the cause may be unknown.
If you have a child who is suffering from pediatric epilepsy, turn to the Epilepsy Program at Atlantic Health System Children’s Health for professional diagnosis and treatment. We’re a Level 4 epilepsy center – the highest designation achievable from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers – which means that we provide the most comprehensive medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial epilepsy treatments available.
Although epilepsy symptoms can begin at any age, most children are diagnosed between the ages of 13 and 16. Patients new to our program receive a complete medical evaluation, at which time we’ll ask you to provide a description of what occurred prior to your child’s seizure and what the seizure looked like. If we suspect a brain tumor is causing the seizures, we may prescribe a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Our specialists will also perform an electroencephalogram (EEG), which records brainwaves that may reveal a tendency for epilepsy. In cases where we need to test brain activity for 24 to 48 hours, video electroencephalogram (VEEG) monitoring is available in a child-friendly, inpatient setting.
A standard course of treatment for pediatric epilepsy typically includes medicines, diets and surgery, if necessary. Therapies will vary depending on what’s causing the seizures and if your child has any conditions that commonly occur with epilepsy, such as anxiety, depression or mood imbalances. Our medical team works closely with pediatric behavioral health and child life specialists to help manage co-existing psychiatric disorders, and once your child reaches adulthood, we seamlessly transfer their care to the Level 4-designated Epilepsy Center at Overlook Medical Center.
Most patients only need one antiepileptic or anticonvulsant medication to safely control their seizures with virtually no limitations on their daily activities. In other cases, a second medication may be necessary or the drugs may lose their effectiveness over time. Determining the right medication and dosage to control seizures can sometimes take several months and requires periodic blood tests. Our neurologists will work with you to find what works best for your child.
If several antiepileptic medications have not proven effective for your child, we may prescribe the Ketogenic Diet. This specialized meal plan uses foods that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates to mimic the way the human body responds to starvation. For reasons that are still not completely clear, burning fat for energy instead of glucose reduces epileptic seizures in some patients.
When multiple antiepileptic medications and diets are unsuccessful at controlling seizures, neurosurgery may be required. Most epilepsy surgeries consist of either removing the affected area of the brain or cutting the nerve pathways along which seizures travel. Our program specializes in a variety of procedures, including lobectomy, hemispherectomy, corpus callosotomy, multiple sub-pial transection and vagal nerve stimulator (VNS) placement.
Atlantic Health Children’s Specialty Center at Morristown
Atlantic Health Children’s Specialty Center at Overlook
Division of Child Neurology and Developmental Medicine
Medical Arts Center (MAC) II Building
11 Overlook Road, Suite 230
Summit, NJ 07901
- Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm
- Medical Arts Center (MAC) II Building
Atlantic Health Children’s Specialty Center at Wayne
Atlantic Health Children’s Specialty Center at Flemington
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