Seizures in very young infants can be very hard to identify, with symptoms that can include jerking the whole upper body forward, changes in facial expression, jerking of an individual limb, changes in heart rate or stiffening of one limb after another, Epilepsy Foundation says. Both legs also may jerk toward the belly with knees bent. The symptoms of these seizures become more typical and detectable after an infant is over 1 month old.
A lack of responsiveness, a typical feature of seizures in older children and adults, is difficult to detect early in life, explains Epilepsy Foundation. Behaviors typical of very young infants could be seen as signs of seizure in older children. The Moro reflex, for instance, is a startle response in young infants where the back stiffens, the fingers fan out, and the arms and legs extend.
Doctors may suspect seizures if the same behaviors are repeated in multiple episodes, there is no precipitating change in posture or activity, behaviors are not typical of that age, or episodes occur both while the infant is asleep and awake, explains Epilepsy Foundation. Even electroencephalogram readings can be difficult to interpret in very young infants. Such readings require specially trained pediatric neurologists to interpret properly.