Epilepsy in Children
Learn more about how epilepsy affects children and programs available to help families and schools.
The term epilepsy is a broad term used for conditions that affect the brain and cause recurring seizures. About 460,000 children have epilepsy in the United States.1-2 Picture a school with 1,000 students—that means at least 6 students would have epilepsy.
A CDC study showed that students aged 6–17 years with epilepsy were more likely to miss 11 or more days of school in the past year compared with students who had health concerns other than epilepsy. Students with epilepsy were found to be more likely to have difficulties in school, use special education services, and have activity limitations such as less participation in sports or clubs.3 CDC researchers also found that a child or adolescent with epilepsy had an additional $9,103.25 per year in associated medical costs than children without the disorder.4
Experts don't know what causes epilepsy in all cases. We do know that it's very important to get appropriate medical care to control seizures. Uncontrolled seizures can:
- Cause other health problems to develop.
- Lead to injuries.
- Increase the risk of death.
- Talk with your child's heath care provider to make sure your child's seizures are controlled as much as possible.
- Explore different treatment options for your child with epilepsy.
- Learn more about how to help teens with epilepsy with CDC's You Are Not Alone toolkit for parents.
- Encourage your child's school nurse, school staff, or day care providers to become more familiar with epilepsy and first aid for seizures through the Epilepsy Foundation's programs:
- Managing Students with Seizures is a training program for school nurses that provides CEUs and is available online or in person.
- Seizure Training for School Personnel teaches seizure management and first aid to school staff.
- Seizure Training for Child Care Personnel teaches seizure management and first aid to child care providers.
- Take Charge of the Storm is an epilepsy awareness program for all middle school-aged students.
- Take Charge of the Facts is an epilepsy awareness program for all high school-aged students
Learn more about epilepsy from the CDC Epilepsy Program.
- Russ SA, Larson K, Halfon N. A national profile of childhood epilepsy and seizure disorder. Pediatrics.2012;129:256-264. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2010-1371.
- US Census Bureau, Population Division [database online]. Annual estimates of the resident population by sex, age, race, and Hispanic origin for the United States, States, and Counties: April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2013. Release Date: June 2014. html . Accessed February 2, 2015.
- Pastor PN, Reuben CA, Kobau R, Helmers SL, Lukacs S. Functional difficulties and school limitations of children with epilepsy: findings from the 2009–2010 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. Disabil Health J. 2015. DOI: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2014.09.002.
- Miller GF, Coffield E, Leroy Z, Wallin R. Prevalence and costs of five chronic conditions in children. J Sch Nurs. 2016, ePub before print. DOI: 10.1177/1059840516641190.