Certain types of cerebral palsy and epilepsy occur because of damage to the same or nearby areas of the brain. For this reason, the two disorders may both occur in children diagnosed with cerebral palsy. It is important to note that the report frequency of epilepsy in children with cerebral palsy varies widely from study to study and between organizations, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.
Epilepsy Is Common Among People with Cerebral Palsy
In general, the prevalence of epilepsy is between 3 and 6 per 1000 children. However, it is much more common in children with cerebral palsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 percent of children with cerebral palsy also had epilepsy. If the child also has a learning disability related to their cerebral palsy, the percentage with epilepsy increases even further, to more than 70 percent, according to a study in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.
This last figure is especially important for both parents and medical care providers who monitor children with these coexisting conditions. This is because uncontrolled seizures can contribute to additional cognitive deficits. Many of these children may already have serious functional impairments related to their cerebral palsy and related learning disabilities.
Treating Epilepsy in Children and Adults with Cerebral Palsy
Most children and adults who have a dual diagnosis of both cerebral palsy and epilepsy had seizures within the first year of their life and received a relatively early diagnosis when compared to children with epilepsy who do not also have cerebral palsy. This allows for earlier treatment and may mean better control of the condition during key developmental stages in early childhood.
In general, the treatment of epilepsy relies on anticonvulsant medications. This is the most common type of treatment for children with epilepsy, regardless of whether they also have cerebral palsy. It may take some time to find the right medication or combination of medications to reduce the frequency of seizures and eliminate them entirely.
Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits
In many cases, cerebral palsy and other brain injuries, including epilepsy, are preventable. They occur because of a medical error, birth injury, or negligence just before, during, or after delivery. If your child has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit and hold the doctor liable.