Finding your baby having a seizure can be frightening for any parent, so it is beneficial to know what you are dealing with. Seizures happen when the electrical activity in the brain is altered. Children exhibit symptoms of seizures as young as three months old, with common signs including lack of awareness, jerky movements, and loss of consciousness. Babies most often suffer from epileptic seizures, with the exception of febrile seizures, which are triggered by a high fever. During generalised seizures, which include grand mal and petit mal seizures, both sides of the brain are affected. In complex seizures only one region is affected.
Lack of Awareness
During petit mal, or absence seizures, babies will lose their sense of awareness and not respond to stimuli, often staring into space. Often, the baby's eyes may blink rapidly, but she is not aware of what is occurring. Absence seizures happen briefly, without warning and may occur several times during the same day. Absence seizures can become dangerous because they occur so rapidly that parents may miss them, and it may be several months before a doctor diagnoses the epilepsy.
Jerky Limb Movements
If your baby is experiencing either a grand mal seizure or an infantile spasm, he may exhibit stiffened arm and leg movements. His arms and legs may then start to jerk rapidly, and his head will drop forward. Your baby's body could also appear to be shaking during a grand mal seizure. If the baby is already lying down, his knees may rise up, and his arms may appear to be flexing forward, as if he is trying to reach forward or hold on to something. Babies may have several infantile spasms a day, typically around bed or nap time. These could become dangerous if left untreated.
Loss of Balance
With grand mal seizures, babies struggle with balance issues and appear clumsier than other children. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, children may struggle with a lack of muscle tone and fall down with this type of epileptic seizure. If your baby falls down, she may suffer a head injury, therefore protective head gear is recommended for serious cases.
Loss of Consciousness
If your baby suffers from grand mal or partial complex seizures, he may lose consciousness for up to a few minutes. During the loss of consciousness, your baby may gag or cry during the seizure, and feel very tired after he comes out of it. Babies may also lose consciousness if they are experiencing a febrile seizure, and their fever is above 38.9 degrees Celsius
During a febrile seizure, a baby may experience twitching on certain limbs of her body, like an arm or a leg, or thee twitching may be focused on only one side of her body. Febrile seizures occur in babies and toddlers, often from 6 months to 3 years old. Febrile seizures are triggered by a high fever, not a history of reoccurring seizures. These generally last for only a few minutes, but can last for up to 15 minutes.