A seizure in an individual of any size can be a scary sight to behold, but an episode of this type in a tiny infant can be truly terrifying. Infant seizures can be the result of an assortment of factors, ranging from serious to mild. If you witness a seizure in your baby, consider the potential causes as well as what you should do post seizure to reduce the likelihood of seizure recurrence.
When most people think of seizures, they think of thrashing and shaking; however, seizures in babies do not always take on that violent form. As Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital reports, it can be difficult to detect a seizure in an infant, because these episodes are sometimes subtle. Your infant may be suffering a seizure if you notice rapid arm and leg jerking, a trembling mouth, eyelid fluttering or a frozen gaze, or a sudden stiffness or limpness in his body. If you notice any of these symptoms, report the incident to your pediatrician so he can investigate the situation.
Brain Behavior During Seizure
A seizure in an infant is the result of an electrical storm within his brain. A baby experiences a seizure when a wave of electrical energy washes over his brain. This is commonly the result of a brain malfunction in which a large number of brain cells send out an electrical current simultaneously.
Seizures in an infant could be caused by an assortment of different things, making them difficult to treat. If your baby experienced any type of pre-birth or birth trauma, his brain may be more prone to seizures. Infections acquired at or immediately after birth could also have this effect, as your infant’s body is ill-equipped to respond to these invaders. Other factors, including drug withdrawal or traumas such as shaken baby syndrome can also lead to the development of seizure activity, reports the Epilepsy Foundation.
The most common form of treatment for recurring seizures within an infant is medication. Because seizures can be the result of so many different maladies, it is often difficult to prescribe medication to calm these spells. Generally, doctors experiment with anti-seizure medication until they have found the perfect combination for the child in question. Others find that diet modification can have a positive impact on seizure disorders. In extreme cases, parents may elect to peruse brain surgery; however, this extreme treatment method is almost never performed on infants.
What to Do
If you witness your baby experiencing a seizure, panic is understandable, but giving in to this panic will reduce your ability to help your little one. Instead, stay calm and hold the baby still. Apply gentle pressure to his arms and legs to still them. If you feel like you are going to hurt the infant, let go and allow these limbs to flail. If possible, flank your child with pillows as a protective measure. Post seizure, check the babies mouth to ensure that he hasn’t vomited and that nothing is blocking his airway. If, after 15 minutes, the seizure doesn’t stop, call 911, recommends Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.