Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center

Risk Factors for Epilepsy

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Risk Factors for Epilepsy

A risk factor is something that raises the chances of getting a health problem. A person can get epilepsy with or without the ones listed below. The chances of getting epilepsy are greater in people who have many.

Epilepsy is more common in people who have other family members with it. Other things that may raise the risk are:

Medical Conditions

Any injury to the brain can raise the risk. Brain injury can be caused by:

Parasitic infections, such as malaria, can also raise the risk.

Side View of the Brain.

http://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=24552455AP00010.jpgSide View of the BrainNULLjpgSide View of the BrainNULL\\filer01\Intellect\images\AP00010.jpgCopyright © 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.98NULL2002-10-01334391Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Other Health Problems

Other health problems associated with epilepsy are:

Risks in Children

Things that may raise the risk of epilepsy in children are:

  • Small size at birth
  • Seizures in the first month of life
  • Problems with the structure of the brain
  • Having seizures due to high fever


  • Epilepsy in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/epilepsy-in-adults. Updated February 4, 2020. Accessed April 10, 2020.
  • Epilepsy in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/epilepsy-in-children. Updated March 22, 2018. Accessed April 10, 2020.
  • Epilepsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Epilepsy-Information-Page. Updated November 22, 2019. Accessed April 10, 2020.
  • Seizure disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/seizure-disorders/seizure-disorders. Updated November 2018. Accessed April 10, 2020.
  • Thijs RD, Surges R, et al. Epilepsy in adults. Lancet. 2019 Feb 16;393(10172):689-701.
  • What are the risk factors? Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at: http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-101/what-are-risk-factors. Updated March 19, 2014. Accessed April 10, 2020.


  • Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.