What Are The Chances That My Children Will Have Epilepsy?
As a man with epilepsy, your offspring are at a slightly higher risk than the general population for developing this disorder.
Recent studies show that offspring of men with epilepsy (MWE) have a 2.4 percent risk of developing it, as opposed to the general population, whose risk is estimated at 1 percent.
If both parents have epilepsy, the risk that their offspring will develop epilepsy increases, although estimates vary widely. Some statistics say the risk of developing epilepsy when both parents have it is about 5 percent, while others place it closer to 15 or 20 percent.
Will My Children Be At Increased Risk For Other Health Problems Because I Have Epilepsy?
Some research suggests that offspring of MWE may be at higher-than-normal risk for the following medical problems: neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis and genetically determined epilepsies such as juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.
What Special Considerations Do I Need To Keep In Mind As A Parent?
If your epilepsy is well-controlled, you face very few restrictions on caring for a child with epilepsy. However, if your epilepsy causes episodes of impaired consciousness and limited control of movement, you need to take special precautions when caring for a baby or a young child.
Keeping Infants Safe
Sleep deprivation and new parenthood often go hand-in-hand. Stress that is induced by sleep deprivation can aggravate seizures; sleep deprivation may also lead to missed medications. Be aware of these potential problems and develop a plan to reduce their impact.
Tips to use when caring for an infant:
Sit on the floor while feeding a baby. If you tend to fall on the same side during a seizure, position yourself to prevent yourself from falling on the baby.
Dress, change and play with the baby on the floor.
Avoid bathing a baby in a tub while you are alone.
Avoid carrying your baby around the house, especially up and down stairs.
Avoid hot drinks around your baby.
When Your Children Are Older
Your seizures will not go unnoticed by your children as they get older, so it's important that you openly discuss your epilepsy with them. They will be comforted by knowing that you are not harmed by seizures; in fact, they may feel empowered if you can teach them how to get help if you remain unconscious after a seizure.
When discussing your epilepsy with your children:
Keep it simple. Use words that your children understand.
Be calm and positive.
Explain that you won't be hurt but may need some help during a seizure.
When your children are old enough, teach them how to react during a seizure. Show them how to call 911 – in case you're unconsciousness after a seizure.
At your discretion, add details about your condition when children are older.