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Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication

Children’s Health is home to nationally recognized epilepsy centers that provide the most advanced epilepsy and seizure care. Our specialists will help your family learn about these medications and decide which one may be best for your child.

What is Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication?

Epilepsy is a condition where atypical brain activity leads to seizures. Anti-seizure medication can help stop an ongoing seizure or keep one from happening.

Anti-epileptic drugs cause a change in your child's brain chemistry which helps prevent or stop seizures. They do not cure epilepsy, just suppress the seizures. Stopping seizures is important because they can get worse if they are not treated.

Some medications are taken on their own, and some are taken together with another drug. To be effective, they usually need to be taken on a regular schedule.

What are the benefits of Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication?

Anti-seizure medication therapy can help reduce how often a child has seizures and how intense the seizures are. These medications also can help reduce a child’s worry and fear about having another seizure. In this way, anti-epileptic drugs can improve how well your child functions in daily life.

What are the side effects of Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication?

The side effects of anti-seizure medication therapy depend on which drug your child is taking. There are more than 30 medications that we prescribe to prevent or stop seizures. All of them affect the brain in slightly different ways, and they each have different side effects.

These side effects can include sleepiness and mood changes. Some patients may feel irritable, but many medications can improve or stabilize a child’s mood by lessening feelings of anxiety or depression. Your child may also develop an allergic reaction, such as a rash.

Because available anti-seizure medications work differently and have different side effects, we work with each family and their neurologist to find the best fit for a child.

What are the risks of Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication?

There are many different anti-seizure medications, and the risks vary. Some drugs can have effects on the liver or kidneys, which we may need to monitor with blood tests either before or during the treatment period. Many medications interact with other medications, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, so we look carefully at all other medications that a child is taking.

We are careful about which anti-seizure drugs we prescribe for a child because some medications may make seizures worse. The medications can be addictive, so we also monitor their use carefully.

What are Children’s Health’s outcome metrics for Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication?

Our goal is to stop a child having seizures with anti-seizure medications. Nationally, two-thirds of all patients with epilepsy can have their seizures successfully stopped with one or more medications.

Some children have seizures that don’t go away with medication (medically intractable epilepsy). If that’s the case for your child, we can discuss other treatment options.

What to expect with Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication?

Because the medications and a child’s response can vary, individual children will have different experiences with anti-seizure medication therapy.

What to expect before Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication?

Your doctor will go over the risks and benefits of the medication. They may talk with you and your child about choosing among different forms – such as liquid or capsules – if they are available.

What to expect during Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication?

Anti-seizure medications are introduced on different schedules, and it can take children different amounts of time to respond to the therapy. If your child’s seizures continue, you should contact your physician to see if the dose needs to be changed or if they want to try a different medication.

What to expect after Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication?

Some children outgrow epilepsy. If that happens, they may be able to be gradually taken off a daily anti-seizure medication, over weeks or months. Your family should be on the lookout for seizures that return (breakthrough seizures) or withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and vomiting. We will make a plan with you about steps to take if there is a breakthrough seizure.

How do I prepare my child for Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication?

Your child will have to learn how to take each type of medication, whether in liquid or pill form. Because most anti-seizure medications are taken daily on a regular schedule, the family and doctor should make a plan for what to do if your child misses a dose.

What questions should I ask my provider about Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication?

You may want to ask your doctor the following questions when considering anti-seizure medication therapy:

  • Is this a good medication for my child’s specific type of epilepsy?
  • How long should we expect my child to have to take the medication?
  • Does the medication interact with any of the other medications my child takes?
  • What are possible side effects of the medication?
  • Will my child need to have regular blood work?
  • What should I do if my child misses a dose or takes an extra dose?
  • What other medication options would you recommend if this one isn’t successful?
  • Is this a good medication for my child’s specific type of epilepsy?
  • How long should we expect my child to have to take the medication?
  • Does the medication interact with any of the other medications my child takes?
  • What are possible side effects of the medication?
  • Will my child need to have regular blood work?
  • What should I do if my child misses a dose or takes an extra dose?
  • What other medication options would you recommend if this one isn’t successful?

Pediatric Anti-Seizure Medication Doctors and Providers

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there natural alternatives to anti-seizure medication therapy?

    In some cases, there are dietary therapies, but they often have side effects and are more difficult to use than medications. Herbal supplements may not be effective, and potential side effects have not been studied.

  • What if the anti-seizure medication doesn’t work?

    If one medication doesn’t work, there are many others that we may recommend. There also are non-medication options – usually used for medically intractable epilepsy – that we can discuss as well. These options include surgery, a ketogenic or similar diet and a device implanted in the chest or brain that can help prevent or stop seizures.