It Might Be More Than Epilepsy

Children with epilepsy frequently have other mental and developmental conditions

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Epilepsy is a neurological condition in which individuals experience seizures. But often children with epilepsy have other health concerns as well.

A recent study looked at what neurological or behavioral conditions might exist among children with epilepsy.

The authors found that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders and cognitive impairment were common among children with epilepsy.

Children whose seizures started earlier in life, before age 2, were more likely to have cognitive impairment.

"Children with epilepsy should be screened for other problems."

The study, led by Colin Reilly, PhD, of  the Research Department at Young Epilepsy in Surrey in the United Kingdom, investigated what kinds of cognitive and behavioral challenges might exist among children who have epilepsy.

The authors analyzed results of various tests given to 85 children, aged 5 to 15, who had active epilepsy.

Eighty percent of those children had some kind of diagnosed behavioral disorder and/or cognitive impairment, defined as having an IQ below 85. An "average" IQ is considered to be 100.

About a third of the children (33 percent) had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and 21 percent had an autism spectrum disorder.

In addition, 40 percent had intellectual disability, defined as having an IQ below 70.

Despite the high number of children with neurological, developmental or behavioral conditions, only a third of them had been diagnosed before the assessments for this study.

When the researchers looked into the children's history of seizures, they found the timing of a first seizure linked to intellectual disability.

Children who experienced their first seizures before 2 years old were 13 times more likely to have intellectual disability than children whose first seizures occurred over age 2.

Those who had intellectual disability also had 14 times greater odds of having an autism spectrum disorder.

There were not any links found, however, between epilepsy characteristics and behavioral disorders.

The authors concluded that screening for neurological, developmental or behavioral conditions should occur for children with active epilepsy.

The study was published May 26 in the journal Pediatrics. The study was funded by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, an anonymous donor to Young Epilepsy and the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

One author has received travel funding from Eisia, UCB and Viropharma, now part of Shire Pharmaceuticals, all of which manufacture drugs used in the treatment of neurodevelopmental and/or neuropsychiatric conditions in children.

No other conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
May 25, 2014
Last Updated:
May 27, 2014