Epilepsy is not contagious. Although many underlying disease mechanisms can lead to epilepsy, the cause of the disease is still unknown in about 50% of cases globally. The causes of epilepsy are divided into the following categories: structural, genetic, infectious, metabolic, immune and unknown. Examples include:
- brain damage from prenatal or perinatal causes (e.g. a loss of oxygen or trauma during birth, low birth weight);
- congenital abnormalities or genetic conditions with associated brain malformations;
- a severe head injury;
- a stroke that restricts the amount of oxygen to the brain;
- an infection of the brain such as meningitis, encephalitis or neurocysticercosis,
- certain genetic syndromes; and
- a brain tumour.