Children's epilepsy resource for Clinicians

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An approach to the initial conversation regarding anticonvulsant prescriptions


Starting an anticonvulsant is a difficult and often traumatic decision for many parents. It is vital that they are comfortably on board with the decision to treat. The parental (and child) perception of the medication is a vital factor in compliance. [1]


One approach (and there are many) is suggested here:


  • The drug succeeds only if life is better on it than not on it.
  • The potential benefits of the drug should, on judgement, outweigh the potential risks of the medication.
  • This is a decision to be made with you, the family (and child), and is an ongoing discussion. Decisions made today can be reviewed in the light of any adverse effects noted or concerns raised.
  • No situation is without risk. To put things in context, crossing the road contains risk.
  • Side effects of drugs can be divided into:
    • Common and not life threatening, often dose related and modified more easily.
    • Rare, idiosyncratic and more serious side effects that are not easily predicted and not dose related. These may be life threatening.






This page was created in March 2012It was last reviewed in December 2017.


[1] Kwong KN, Wong SN, So KT. Parental perception, worries and needs in children with epilepsy. Acta Paediatr 2000 May;89(5):593-6