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14-05-2015 | Study of cognitive development issues in school-aged children with active epilepsy

14 May 2015
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New research on the prevalence of cognitive development issues among school-aged children with "active" epilepsy (on antiepileptic Drugs (AEDs), and/or had a seizure in the last year) provides new insights on this subject. 

The study was conducted with 85 children (74% of eligible population), aged between 5 – 15 years of school going age, who underwent comprehensive psychological assessments, analysis of advanced social, cultural and cognitive skills, working memory and processing speed.

The study aims was to establish the frequency of cognitive impairments in a representative sample of children, in order to address a current lack of information on this subject, as well as to highlight factors that are significantly associated with global and specific difficulties in cognition. The results showed that 24% of children were functioning below an IQ of 50, while 40% had IQ scores below 70. The scores on evaluations of mental processing speed were considerably lower than scores on the verbal or performance indexes. A total of 58% of children displayed underachievement on at least one of the four working memory tests. Factors that were notably associated with globally impaired cognition included being treated with multiple antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) and having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Requiring more than one AED prescription was also associated with lower scores on the working memory and processing speed composite scores, while developmental coordination disorder was linked with lower scores on the processing speed composite.

The report concluded: "There is a high rate of global and specific cognitive difficulties in childhood epilepsy. Difficulties are most pronounced in aspects of working memory and processing speed. Predictors of cognitive impairment in childhood epilepsy include epilepsy-related and behavioural factors, which may differ depending on the domain of cognition assessed."

Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology - Cognition in school-aged children with "active" epilepsy: A population-based study - DOI: 10.1080/13803395.2015.1024103
 

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