Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Internet Parent series - Help, is my baby having a seizure?

Here is the typical scene - you maybe feeding your infant and you suddenly notice that he has tremors in one leg. You have heard horror stories of infant seizures, and are hence obviously concerned. So is this really a seizure?
Seizures can be tough to diagnose in an infant. However here are some clues that would suggest if your child is having a seizure, or more likely a normal behaviour like tremulousness.
1. Can the movements be controlled by touching/ holding the arms /legs gently? If so, these are more likely to be normal tremors. Seizures cannot be reduced/ stopped this way.
2. Do these movements occur only at specific times, like changing diapers (or feeding as in this case)? This would be again more likely to a normal behaviour since seizures cannot be started this way).
3. Is the child developing normally? If your baby is otherwise behaving and developing normally even after repeated movements, this would make seizures less likely.
4. Are these episodes occurring both during sleep and while the infant is awake? If so this is more likely to be a seizure.
Finally, it is more likely that bilateral (both arms or leg together) movements that are symmetrical and persistent may be seizures.
While these are some useful pointers in trying to rule out seizures, given the fact that seizures can be very subtle in newborn and infants, anytime you have a doubt regarding an abnormal movement, it is a good idea to discuss this with your pediatrician.
It may be a good idea to videotape an abnormal episode (with your mobile/ camera) since this can provide invaluable information to your pediatrician too !
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