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Inheritance and vaccination FAQs
Answers to frequently asked questions on inheritance and vaccination.
I have epilepsy. Will my children develop epilepsy too?
The answer to this question is, it depends.
Whether someone has epilepsy or not depends on whether they have had an injury to their brain - for example from an accident or infection - and their seizure threshold. It might also depend on why you have got epilepsy.
Everyone has a seizure threshold - like a pain threshold - which is their own likelihood of having seizures. Most people have a high threshold and so don't usually have seizures. Some people have a low threshold, and might start having seizures out of the blue, or their threshold is lowered by an accident, and so they might have seizures after the accident. A seizure threshold is part of our genetic make-up and can be passed from parent to child. Also, some people have epilepsy due to another medical condition that might be passed from parent to child. But just because a parent has epilepsy, it does not necessarily mean that their children will have it too.
There is more information on this topic in our pregnancy and parenting pages.
My son has epilepsy. Is it safe for him to have vaccinations?
The subject of vaccinations is a tricky one, and it can be a worrying decision for parents, whether their child has epilepsy or not. The Department of Health (opens in a new window) recommends that every child should have their vaccinations, and that having epilepsy does not usually prevent a child from having vaccines. The choice of whether to immunise your child is yours, but if you are concerned, it might be helpful to talk to your GP or health visitor about this.
© Epilepsy Society
Information updated in November 2012.