CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Epilepsy has no identifiable cause in about half of those with the condition. In about half the people with epilepsy, the condition may be traced to various factors.
Genetic influence. Some types of epilepsy, which are categorized by the type of seizure you experience, run in families. In these cases, it's likely that there's a genetic influence.
Researchers have linked some types of epilepsy to specific genes, though it's estimated that up to 500 genes could be tied to the condition. For most people, genes are only part of the cause of epilepsy. Certain genes may make a person more sensitive to environmental conditions that trigger seizures.
- Head trauma. Head trauma that occurs due to a car accident or other traumatic injury can cause epilepsy.
- Brain conditions. Brain conditions that result in damage to the brain, such as brain tumors or strokes, also can cause epilepsy. Stroke is a leading cause of epilepsy in adults older than age 35.
- Infectious diseases. Infectious diseases, such as meningitis, AIDS and viral encephalitis, can cause epilepsy.
- Prenatal injury. Before birth, babies are sensitive to brain damage that could be caused by several factors, such as an infection in the mother, poor nutrition or oxygen deficiencies. This brain damage can result in epilepsy or cerebral palsy.
- Developmental disorders. Epilepsy can sometimes be associated with developmental disorders, such as autism and neurofibromatosis.
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