When to See a Child Neurologist
Infants and children should be referred to a pediatric neurologist or epileptologist at the onset of the first unprovoked seizure (seizure not triggered by infection or fever), especially if the seizures occur often or are prolonged (lasting more than 5 minutes). It is important that a child is diagnosed and treated for epilepsy appropriately and the seizures are controlled as well as possible. In certain syndromes such as Infantile spasms, B-6 dependent seizures, and Dravet syndrome, early aggressive treatment may change the course of illness. Please refer to this article referencing early referral to pediatric neurologist and rate of misdiagnosis of first seizure in children. When to See a Child Neurologist
Often if your child is hospitalized during the first seizure event, a pediatric neurologist or epileptologist will see the child during the hospital visit.
What is a Child or Pediatric Neurologist?
If your child has problems involving the nervous system, a child neurologist has the special training and experience to treat your child. Examples of such problems are seizures, delayed speech, weakness, or headaches.
What is a Child or Pediatric Epileptologist?
An epileptologist is a neurologist with a dedicated interest and subspecialty practice in the field of epilepsy. Epileptologists have received additional fellowship training beyond their neurology residency learning the art of epilepsy care and electroencephalogram (EEG) interpretation, with particular emphasis on video-EEG interpretation and the clinical management of patients with epilepsy and spells, including optimal treatment with a broad range of antiepileptic drugs, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), and epilepsy surgery.
What Kind of Training Do Child Neurologists and Epileptologists Have?
Child neurologists are medical doctors who have completed
- Four years of medical school
- At least 1 to 2 years of pediatric residency
- Three or more years of residency training in adult and child neurology
- An Epileptologist has an additional fellowship training beyond residency in EEG interpretation and epilepsy
In addition, most child neurologists have certification from the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (with special competency in child neurology).
Child neurologists treat children from birth into young adulthood. They choose to make the care of children the core of their medical practice. Their advanced training and experience equip them to meet your child’s unique needs.
What Types Of Services Do Child Neurologists Provide?
Child neurologists often diagnose, treat, and manage the following conditions:
- Seizure disorders, including seizures in newborns, febrile convulsions, and epilepsy
- Medical aspects of head injuries and brain tumors
- Weakness, including cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and nervemuscle disorders
- Headaches, including migraines
- Behavioral disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), school failure, autism, and sleep problems
- Developmental disorders, including delayed speech, motor milestones, and coordination issues
- Mental retardation
Where Can I Find A Child Neurologist?
Child neurologists practice in a variety of medical settings, including children’s hospitals, university medical centers, community-based outpatient practices, private offices and clinics.
The National Association of Epilepsy Centers has set forth criteria for registering as an epilepsy center in the United States. You can find an epilepsy center near you by searching their website:
Child Neurologists — The Best Care For Children From Birth To Young Adulthood
Child neurologists combine the special expertise in diagnosing and treating disorders of the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, muscles, nerves) with an understanding of medical disorders in childhood and the special needs of the child and his or her family and environment.
In many cases, child neurologists work as a team with pediatricians or other primary care doctors. In addition, child neurologists may work with other pediatric specialists to care for children who have more complex or serious medical issues, such as epilepsy, birth defects, or mental retardation. These are chronic conditions that require ongoing care and close follow-up throughout childhood and adolescence.
Which Child Neurologist do I see if my child has a diagnosed rare syndrome?
Child neurologists are continually training and reading to keep up with current literature and research; however, rare diseases are easy to miss and often go undiagnosed. If you suspect your child has a rare epilepsy syndrome or cause of epilepsy, discuss it with your pediatrician or child neurologist. Bring in scientific literature to support your theory. Your child’s neurologist may be willing to find and contact recognized experts in the field for a peer-to-peer phone conversation or for a referral of your child to the expert.
If you are interested in finding experts in a specific syndrome or epilepsy, you can take a look at published literature by going to www.pubmed.com and searching the specific syndrome or epilepsy. Find articles about the syndrome and the authors, then research the medical doctors to find who is a child neurologist or epileptologist and who may be feasible from a travel perspective for your child to see. Check with your insurance plan to see if payment for an out of state doctor is permitted under your plan, and what the process for referral to this doctor may be.
If there are advocacy groups that support a certain syndrome or epilepsy, contact the advocacy group for referrals to their professional advisors or to doctors that treat the condition.