What Is a Child Neurologist?

Dr. Amit Vatkar

Infants and children should be referred to a pediatric neurologist or epileptologist at the onset of the first unprovoked seizure (seizure not triggered by infection or fever), especially if the seizures occur often or are prolonged (lasting more than 5 minutes).   It is important that a child is diagnosed and treated for epilepsy appropriately and the seizures are controlled as well as possible.  In certain syndromes such as Infantile spasms, B-6 dependent seizures, and Dravet syndrome, early aggressive treatment may change the course of illness.

What Is a Child Neurologist?

A child neurologist, or pediatric neurologist, is a doctor that deals with diseases and conditions that affect the nervous system. For example, if your child has seizures, delayed speech, poor muscle tone, or frequent headaches, your pediatrician may ask a neurologist for an evaluation.

A pediatric or child neurologist is a neurologist that treats children.

Child neurologists are medical doctors who have completed

  • Four years of medical school
  • At least 1 to 2 years of pediatric residency
  • Three or more years of residency training in adult and child neurology
  • An Epileptologist has an additional fellowship training beyond residency in EEG interpretation and epilepsy

In some cases, child neurologists may work as part of a team with your child’s primary care doctor and a developmental pediatrician to develop a treatment plan for your child if he has some difficult or serious medical concerns. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD or autism) may see a child neurologist, in order to deal with sensory issues or behavioral issues associated with autism.

What Do Neurologists Do?

Child neurologists diagnose and treat a variety of conditions. Neurologists deal with children who have seizures, head injuries, or muscle weakness. They also develop treatment plans and help manage the care of children that have disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) and autism. Children that have developmental disorders, such as speech delays, fine and gross motor delays, and coordination issues, may also see a neurologist. A neurologist may also treat children who have learning disabilities or learning delays.

Sometimes, a developmental doctor may ask you to take your child to see a neurologist to rule out any serious issues.

What Can I Expect During a Neurology Appointment?

The neurologist will examine your child and ask you questions about your child and your child’s behavior. After the evaluation, the neurologist may request additional testing to rule out or to diagnose certain conditions. Usually treatments take long duration to cure it completely. Its important that you follow complete medical treatment and do not drop in between.

Often if your child is hospitalized during the first seizure event, a pediatric neurologist or epileptologist will see the child during the hospital visit. If your child has problems involving the nervous system, a child neurologist has the special training and experience to treat your child. Examples of such problems are seizures, delayed speech, weakness, or headaches.