About this information

NICE clinical guidelines advise the NHS on caring for people with specific conditions or diseases and the treatments they should receive. The information applies to people using the NHS in England and Wales.

In April 2018, we updated the advice in the guideline with warnings about sodium valproate . Sodium valproate must not be used in pregnancy, and only used in girls and women when there is no alternative and a pregnancy prevention plan is in place. This is because of the risk of malformations and developmental abnormalities in the baby.

This information explains the advice about the diagnosis and management of epilepsy in children, young people and adults that is set out in NICE clinical guideline 137.

This is a partial update of advice on epilepsy that NICE produced in 2004. The advice on medicines used to treat epilepsy has been updated, some advice has been strengthened, and other guidance will be reviewed in due course.

Does this information apply to me?

Yes, if you have epilepsy, or you are the parent or carer of a child or young person with epilepsy.

The advice in the NICE guideline covers the diagnosis, treatment and management of epilepsy. It does not cover surgical interventions in detail.

It also does not specifically look at the treatment of newborn babies or the diagnosis or management of seizures caused by fever (febrile seizures). It does not cover complementary ('alternative') therapies, such as acupuncture or herbal medicine, or lifestyle issues.

For the remainder of this information, the term:

  • 'child' will be used to describe a child aged from 1 month to 11 years old

  • 'young person' will be used to describe those between the ages of 12 and 17

  • 'adult' will be used to describe those who are 18 or over

  • 'older people' will be used to describe those who are 65 or over based on the evidence that was reviewed.

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