Neonatal Seizures

Neonatal seizures occur in infants during the first 28 days of life. These seizures can be caused by various underlying conditions and can have severe consequences if left untreated.

In this blog post, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for neonatal seizures to provide parents and caregivers with the information they need to understand and manage this serious condition.

Causes of Neonatal Seizures

Structural: Brain malformations or injuries, including brain haemorrhage, brain tumours, and injury caused by lack of oxygen during birth.

Metabolic: Issues with how the body processes and uses energy, such as low blood sugar, infections, or electrolyte imbalances.

Symptoms of Neonatal Seizures:

  • Twitching or jerking movements in the arms or legs: The baby's limbs may move uncontrollably and in a jerking or spasmodic manner. These movements may be symmetrical or asymmetrical and can occur on one or both sides of the body.
  • Stiffening of the body: The baby's body may become stiff or rigid, with or without jerking movements. This is known as a tonic seizure and is common in neonates.
  • Changes in muscle tone: The baby's muscle tone may change, becoming either limp or stiff. This is known as hypotonic or hypertonic seizure, respectively.
  • Breathing problems: During a seizure, the baby may experience breathing problems such as pauses, irregular breathing, or apnea (a temporary cessation of breathing).
  • Changes in heart rate or blood pressure: Seizures can cause a change in the baby's heart rate or blood pressure, which can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.
  • Loss of consciousness or staring spells: The baby may lose consciousness or stare blankly during a seizure. This can be a sign of a complex partial seizure or a generalized seizure.

It's important to note that not all seizures present with all of the above symptoms, and some babies may present with only one or two of the above symptoms. It's also important to note that neonatal seizures can be subtle and may be difficult to detect. That's why it's important to seek medical attention if you suspect your baby may be experiencing seizures.

Treatment of Neonatal Seizures

  • Medications: Anticonvulsant medications, such as phenobarbital or benzodiazepines, may be used to stop seizures and prevent them from recurring.
  • Intensive Care: Infants with neonatal seizures may require intensive care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to monitor their condition and provide supportive care.
  • Management of underlying conditions: Other treatments may be required, such as antibiotics for an infection or glucose for low blood sugar, may be required Depending on the cause of the seizures.

Prevention of Neonatal Seizures

  • Regular prenatal care: Regular prenatal care can help identify and manage any potential risk factors, such as maternal infections or brain malformations, before birth. This can include regular check-ups, screenings, and tests to monitor the health of both the mother and the baby.
  • Avoiding triggers: Avoiding known triggers, such as certain medications or alcohol, can help prevent seizures in some infants. For example, if a mother has a history of seizures, it's crucial to avoid certain medications during pregnancy. Likewise, alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy as it is a known teratogen and can cause brain damage in the developing fetus.
  • Proper management of underlying conditions: Infants with underlying conditions that can lead to seizures, such as low blood sugar or electrolyte imbalances, require close monitoring and management to prevent seizures.
  • For example, infants with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) may need to be given glucose to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
  • Proper management of perinatal and neonatal events: Perinatal and neonatal events such as birth asphyxia, hypoxia-ischemia, and traumatic brain injury can lead to seizures.
  • Vaccination: Vaccination can help prevent certain infections that can lead to seizures. For example, babies who receive the Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) and pneumococcal vaccines are less likely to develop meningitis, which can lead to seizures.

It's important to note that in some cases, seizures in neonates may be caused by unknown factors, and prevention may not be possible. However, by understanding the potential risk factors and taking steps to manage them, parents and caregivers can take action to reduce the likelihood of seizures and ensure the best possible outcome for the baby.

As parents and caregivers, it's normal to feel overwhelmed and scared. But remember that you are not alone in this journey; many resources are available to help you and your baby through this difficult time. Take care of yourself and your baby, and don't hesitate to reach out for support and guidance.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Hyderabad - Kondapur. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. How can neonatal seizures be prevented?

Preventing neonatal seizures requires regular prenatal care, avoiding known triggers, proper management of underlying conditions, proper management of perinatal and neonatal events, and vaccination when appropriate.

2. Can neonatal seizures lead to long-term complications?

Left untreated, neonatal seizures can lead to long-term complications, such as developmental delays, cognitive impairment, and cerebral palsy. It's important to seek prompt medical attention if you suspect your baby may be experiencing seizures.

3. Can neonatal seizures recur?

Neonatal seizures can recur, and it's important to have close monitoring and follow-up care to ensure that the underlying condition is properly managed and to prevent the recurrence of seizures.

4. Is there a difference between neonatal seizures and infantile seizures?

Yes, there is a difference. Neonatal seizures occur in infants during the first 28 days of life, while infantile seizures occur in infants between the ages of 1 month to 1 year.

5. Can neonatal seizures be inherited?

Some genetic disorders that can cause neonatal seizures can be inherited. It is important to discuss any family history of seizures with your healthcare provider.

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