Epilepsy | Causes & Risk Factors


What causes epilepsy?

Doctors don’t always know what causes epilepsy. Some things that may increase your risk for epilepsy include the following:

  • Genetics: People with a parent or sibling who has epilepsy are at an increased risk for developing epilepsy.
  • Head trauma: Serious head injuries can cause epilepsy, sometimes years after the injury.
  • Infection: Infections such as meningitis, encephalitis, and AIDS can increase the risk of epilepsy.
  • Medical conditions: Other medical conditions can increase the risk of epilepsy, such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, brain tumors, or problems with the blood vessels in the brain.
  • Problems during pregnancy, birth, or early development: In some cases, infections during pregnancy, problems during birth, congenital brain defects (problems with the brain that are present at birth), or injury to an infant’s brain may cause epilepsy.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/94