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Is Epilepsy hereditary?


  When I was 15 mo. old I went into convulsions that, doctors said, stemmed from a virus and a high temperature.  At the age of 8 I began having complex partial seizures (up to 12 or more a day taking 3 diff. types of med.)and continued to have them, progressively getting worse, until the age of 18.  I had brain surgery at CCF for treatment and from previous testing it was determined that I had a lesion on the right side of my brain and scar tissue on the front.  During the operation, as much of the places were removed as possible without doing harm.  Almost 9 yrs. later I haven't had any full blown seizures ( Thanks so much CCF!!)but do experience auras about 3 times a yr. I am currently trying to reduce my meds and eventually be completely free of all medication because I am planning to start a family within the next 2 yrs.  My question is this: what are the chances, if any, that my child will develop epilepsy? Is it possible since my problems with epilepsy began from an illness as a small child?  It concerns me because I really wouldn't want anyone to experience what I endured as a child and also the ordeal and pain that brain surgery entails (if it ever came down to that). Thank you very much.  
Dear Lindsey,
The well known "febrile seizure", common to infants and children between 6 months and 5 years of age does have a strong tendency to be inherited, and is  generally regarded as a benign condition.  Usually it takes the form of a single seizure occuring as temperature rises.  Except for a presumed genetic relationship with benign epilepsy of childhood (which is not the type of seizures that you describe and is in itself a transient condition), the risk of developing epilepsy in later life is little greater than the general population.  It is unclear with regard to your later seizures whether it represented a "complex febrile convulsion" (focal seizure, prolonged, or repeated seizures as an infant--increasing your risk of epilepsy as an adult) or an underlying abnormality present from birth. In either case, this should not deter you from having children.  If ever you are intersted in getting an evaluation by an epileptologist at CCF call 1-800-CCF-CARE for an appointment.  Good Luck.




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