People who have epilepsy during childhood often have to deal with long-term social development problems that can persist even when their seizures are brought under control.
This is according to a new study from the Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, which has offered evidence that achieving seizure control does not necessarily represent the end of the social challenges these individuals face.
For this research, a total of 241 children and teens diagnosed with uncomplicated epilepsy between 1993 and 1997, and treated at several neurology practices in Connecticut, were followed for an average of 12 years.
The results, published in the medical journal Pediatrics, showed that 39% of the subjects achieved ‘excellent’ seizure control, with no further seizure incidents one year after diagnosis. A further 23% had ‘good’ seizure control, achieving ‘remission’ between one and five years following diagnosis. Another 29% generally responded to medication, with intermittent seizures persisting, whilst 8% had recurrent drug-resistant seizures.
Successful seizure control was shown to be an important predictor of how likely a child was to get a college degree and find gainful employment as an adult, however seizure control alone did not guarantee social or educational success.
Indeed, learning difficulties and behavioural issues appeared to affect education regardless of seizure control, indicating that the presence of conditions such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression and bipolar disorder are more important in this regard than seizure frequency.
Dr Anne Berg, Professor of Paediatrics and Neurology, at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said: “Frequency and intensity of seizures remain important predictors of how well a child does into adulthood, but somewhat to our surprise we also found seizures are by no means the sole influencers of social and educational outcomes among adults with childhood epilepsy.
“Physicians caring for those patients should not assume kids are doing fine just because their seizures are under control. Seizures really don’t tell the whole story.”
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