Dr. Greene`s Answer:
A burst of simultaneous, contradictory signals from brain cells is called a seizure or convulsion. The most common cause of seizures in childhood is the rapid onset of a high fever. Febrile seizures, while very frightening to parents, are not dangerous.
Head trauma is another common cause of seizures. Infections of various types (especially meningitis) are the other common known cause of seizures. Other less common causes include drugs, toxins, brain tumors, strokes, neurologic syndromes, altered blood sugar levels (too low or too high), or abnormalities of blood levels of sodium, calcium, or magnesium.
Epilepsy is defined as recurrent seizures unrelated to fever or identifiable acute damage to the brain. Somewhere between 0.4 and 1 percent of people have epilepsy, making it about as common as diabetes (Pediatric Epilepsy, Demos Publishers, 1993).
Last reviewed: February 06, 2008