You are here:

Parenting and epilepsy

Published on

Updated:

Parenting and epilepsy

If your seizures (or your partner’s) are controlled, then epilepsy may not affect how you look after your child. However, parents who have seizures may find taking extra safety measures helpful. This depends on the type of seizures and the activity involved.

Keeping you and your baby safe

If your seizures happen suddenly and without warning, the following ideas may be helpful to keep your baby safe. These might not always be necessary, especially if there is someone else around to help you, but they could be helpful if you are with your baby on your own and have a seizure.

  • Dressing and changing your baby on the floor means they would be less likely to fall if you had a seizure.
  • Sponging your baby down on a changing mat on the floor is safer than bathing them in water.
  • Carrying your baby in a padded carrycot or sling rather than having them in your arms, may help to protect your baby if you fall.
  • Using a wrist strap on your baby’s pram, or a brake that automatically activates, means that the pram will not roll away if you let it go.
  • Feeding your baby in a low highchair may be safer as it is less likely to tip over than a higher one.
  • Feeding your baby while you sit on the floor, surrounded by cushions and leaning against the wall, may help to keep your baby safer.  

Talking to your child about epilepsy

Children can often be taught at a young age what to do if someone has a seizure. Many children learn what to do from watching other people. As their parent, you are the best person to decide when it is the right time to explain your epilepsy and seizures to your child.

During a seizure your child could learn to:

  • stay with you, so they don’t get lost
  • get help from someone else, for example a neighbour or friend
  • help you themselves, if they know what to do.

Some people wear medical jewellery or carry an ‘I have epilepsy’ ID card saying what to do if they have a seizure. Even if children are too young to manage seizures, they may be able to tell other people that you have a card or medical jewellery. 

What about immunisation?

The Department of Health recommends that every child is immunised (vaccinated) against infectious diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Current research suggests that there is no connection between the MMR vaccine and epilepsy.

If you are concerned about any vaccination your child may need, you can talk about this with your child’s doctor or paediatrician. It is your choice whether your child is vaccinated, and having more information might help you to decide.

Further information on immunisation is available from the Department of Health's publication: The Greenbook

Information produced: April 2019

You can call our helpline on 01494 601 400.

Our Helpline is open five days a week, Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm, (Wednesday 9am to 7.30pm). However, we will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday and will re-open on Tuesday 14th April.

You can also reach us by email helpline@epilepsysociety.org.uk.

Are there risks to my baby?

Most women with epilepsy will have a normal pregnancy and labour and over a 9 in 10 (90%) chance of having a healthy baby. Women with epilepsy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with a birth defect due to genetic conditions, injury during seizures and anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). Talk to your neurologist about how you can reduce the risk to your unborn baby.

Pregnancy and parenting leaflet

Want to know more?

Order or download our pregnancy and parenting leaflet:

Download the PDF

Order the leaflet from our shop

Sodium valproate

Sodium valproate is an epilepsy drug prescribed for all seizure types including absence, myoclonus and tonic clonic seizures. It is also prescribed to a lesser degree for bipolar disorders. It is known under different brand names including Epilim, Epival, Episenta and Convulex.

New regulations have been introduced by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) around the way in which the drug, sodium valproate is prescribed to women and girls of childbearing age. 

Valproate organisations

The following groups have been set up by patients to help women who have children affected by valproate during pregnancy:

FACS-aware - 07739 411 373
FACS Association - 01253 799 161
OACS - 07904 200 364