When people witness a seizure occurring, the assumption is that the person experiencing the seizure is in pain. The person has lost control of their body; they are convulsing on the floor. It would be a reasonable assumption that the person experiencing the seizure is suffering in some form or fashion. With seizures, however, that is not the case. Seizures occur when the brain becomes saturated with an abundance of electrical transmissions.
When this happens, a person temporarily loses the ability to function and move of their own control. While a seizure appears to be painful, it’s actually the opposite. Seizures are common, particularly among babies; however, if babies frequently experience seizures, it could serve as a sign that a more serious health condition is occurring that could have been caused by a birth injury. In fact, there are several types of seizures that babies can experience.
What is a focal seizure?
A focal seizure is a seizure where the abnormal brain activity is focused on one particular area of the brain. With focal seizures, babies will typically experience a precursor symptom before the seizure starts. Some common precursor signs are mental confusion, vision or hearing changes, fear or anxiety, and strange smells. There are two different types of focus seizures: simple and complex. Simple focal seizures consist of various symptoms and characteristics that are dependent upon the particular area of the brain that is affected.
An example would be a focal seizure that was triggered as a result of abnormal brain activity in the occipital lobe and the baby began to experience muscle spasms in its arms and legs as a result. Complex focal seizures, on the other hand, consist of abnormal brain activity in the temporal lobe and the baby passes out or temporarily loses mental awareness as a result.
Understanding and spotting absence seizures
Absence seizures are seizures that cause babies to drift into a sudden altered state of consciousness while their eyes remain open in an abnormal fixed gaze. These types of seizures only last about 20 to 30 seconds and can happen several times throughout the day. In fact, babies rarely experience this type of seizure; it almost always begins for children who are between four and five years old.
What are atonic seizures in babies?
Atonic seizures are seizures that produce a very sudden and dramatic loss of muscle tone for babies. Babies who experience this type of seizure tend to go limp. Older children who experience this type of seizure will either fall from a standing position or drop their head and arms and become unresponsive.
General tonic-clonic seizures in your child
When babies experience this type of seizure, their behavior falls into certain phases. In the first phase of this seizure, the baby’s arms, legs, and body will begin to contract. In the second phase, the baby’s body will then begin to straighten out. In the third phase, the baby will begin to experience tremors and shakes. Last but not least, in the fourth phase, a clonic phase will occur, and the baby’s muscles will gradually relax and return back to normal.
Rare, but dangerous infantile spasms
Infantile spasms are a rare type of seizure that occurs in babies under six months old. With this seizure, the baby experiences sudden spasms of the neck, legs, and body which happens either as the baby is either waking up or falling asleep. These seizures have the ability to happen over a hundred times in one day and can produce very serious, long-term health consequences for the baby.
Febrile seizures caused by high fevers
Febrile seizures are seizures that are triggered only in high fevers. These seizures are different based on the fact that they do not rely on neurological issues like the other seizures listed.
What are the causes of baby seizures?
When babies experience any of the seizures listed, it is due to several causes. The first cause is trauma during birth that caused damage to the baby’s brain. The second cause is birth defects. The third is infection.
Brain injury during birth
Baby seizures are usually an indication of underlying neurologic problems that may result from oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery. When a baby is deprived of its oxygen supply or oxygen for a long period of time, it can cause the cells in the brain to decay and die. That is why oxygen deprivation is the leading cause of major birth injuries. Different types of head and brain injuries that occur during a difficult childbirth can also be the cause behind many baby seizures. External trauma to the head is a common problem. Head trauma can occur based on how the doctor exercises the use of vacuum extractors or obstetrical forceps. When the doctors fail to use these instruments with the proper care and skill necessary, it is more than likely that a baby will experience injuries to the head and neck.
There are certain types of baby seizures that serve as early signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy in babies. Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder that is caused by injury to the developing brain of a fetus during pregnancy or childbirth. The damage fractures the full, normal development of the baby’s brain which leaves it unable to properly control the movement of certain muscles in the body.
Undiagnosed/untreated maternal infections
Infection is another cause that triggers seizures in babies. There are certain infections – such as Group B strep, which can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy – that are strongly linked to baby seizures. Group B strep is a common type of infection that affects one out of every four pregnancies. If the infection is diagnosed it can easily be treated and prevented from being passed down to the baby. If left untreated, infections can cause fever and produce seizures in babies.