Pediatric Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a brain condition that causes seizures.

Seizures increase your child’s risk for accidents and injury. Children with epilepsy can have learning and behavioral problems that make school and their social lives more difficult. People with epilepsy are also at risk for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).

University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital treats all types of epilepsy in children of all ages. We use the newest imaging techniques, anti-epileptic medications, and surgical and dietary treatments to diagnose and control seizures and reduce those risks so that your child can live a safer, healthier life.

Iowa’s only Level 4 epilepsy center, for the most advanced care

We’re home to Iowa’s only Level 4 epilepsy center, as designated by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers. That means we’re the only epilepsy center in the state that has the specially trained staff and the advanced technology and therapies to diagnose and treat the most complex cases of epilepsy.

Complete diagnostic evaluation by a team of epilepsy experts

Every child who sees us for epilepsy care receives a complete evaluation by our pediatric neurology team so that we can make a diagnosis that is as accurate as possible.

The most important part of the diagnosis is the discussion you’ll have with our team about your child’s history of seizures.

Seizures may be shaking events or staring spells that are easy to identify. But some seizures are not as obvious or noticeable. A seizure might take the form of odd or unusual sensory or psychiatric feelings or behaviors. Our board-certified pediatric neurologists will work with you to collect a detailed medical history of your child.

We may also use imaging, such as MRI, and other tests, such as EEG and genetic evaluations, to make a diagnosis.

We use the evaluation to determine the type and cause of the seizures so that we can recommend a treatment plan and decide which kind of specialty doctor should guide your child’s treatment.

What to expect

Most children with epilepsy receive their care from a general pediatric neurologist.

About 50% of children with epilepsy become seizure-free when treated with one anti-seizure medication. Another 15% need a second medication to become seizure-free.

About 30% of children with epilepsy will continue to have seizures, even after two medications. This is often referred to as refractory epilepsy, intractable epilepsy, or uncontrolled epilepsy.

The American Academy of Neurology recommends that patients whose seizures are not controlled by two medications should see a pediatric epileptologist—a pediatric neurologist who specializes in the treatment of complicated epilepsy.

Children with complicated epilepsy receive further evaluation to determine a dietary or surgical treatment that may control their seizures. Our pediatric epileptologists offer treatments that most other pediatric neurologists cannot.

Pediatric epilepsy treatments

Medications

We offer a wide range of the latest available medications for seizure control and participate in clinical trials of medications and therapies not currently available on the market.

Dietary therapies

Dietary therapies for epilepsy can lead to a reduction of 50% or greater in seizure frequency. Our specially trained dietitians offer:

  • Ketogenic diet
  • Modified Atkins diet
  • Low glycemic index diet
Surgery

We offer the latest surgical procedures for seizure control, including:

  • Corpus callosotomy
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Hemispherotomy/hemispherectomy
  • Laser interstitial thermal therapy (laser ablation)
  • Lesionectomy
  • Lobectomy
  • Responsive neurostimulation
  • Vagus nerve stimulation

Pediatric epilepsy conditions we treat

  • Extra-temporal lobe epilepsy
  • Focal epilepsy (complex partial epilepsy)
  • Generalized epilepsy
  • Genetics epilepsies, including Dravet syndrome, CDKL5-related disorder, GLUT1 deficiency, PCDH19, and many others
  • Hemimegalencephaly
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
  • Lesional epilepsy
  • Medically intractable epilepsy
  • Post-infectious epilepsy
  • Post-stroke epilepsy
  • Post-traumatic epilepsy
  • Rasmussen’s encephalitis
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy

Locations and Contact

  • UI Stead Family Children's Hospital
    2400 Colloton Pavilion
    200 Hawkins Drive
    Iowa City, Iowa 52242
    In House Directions: UI Stead Family Children's Hospital public elevator, Level 2
    Hours
    • Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Contact
    • 1-855-543-2884 (855 KID AT UI)
    • 1-319-356-1616 (Emergency)

Other Team Members

Providers without profiles:

  • Stephanie Borst, Pediatric Dietitian
  • Rachel Dyke, Pharmacist
  • Dan Crawford, NP, Nurse Practitioner
  • Lauren Wilkes, NP, Nurse Practitioner
  • Robin Enfield, RN, Nurse Coordinator