Care for children with epilepsy should be mindful of accompanying disorders

Posted Aug 5 2016 in Epilepsy in children

Almost 80% of children with epilepsy also have an accompanying disorder, known as a comorbidity, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Pediatrics. This highlights the importance of a comprehensive approach to care.

The authors state: “The management should not only focus on the epileptic seizures, but should also include thorough assessments of all aspects of health, including development, psychiatric symptoms, nutrition, growth, and sleep.”

The researchers, led by Dr Richard Chin, at the University of Edinburgh, analysed data obtained between 2008 and 2013 for more than one million children born in Norway between 1996 and 2013. They divided the children into three groups: those with ‘complicated’ epilepsy (who also had accompanying medical/neurological/developmental disorders (comorbidities)), those with ‘uncomplicated’ epilepsy (who had no additional disorders) and those without epilepsy.

They found that, of these children, 0.6% had epilepsy and, of these, approximately 80% also had at least one comorbidity.

The team found that children with epilepsies that were difficult to treat, or worsened/evolved, had higher rates of comorbidity than both children with ‘easier to treat’ epilepsies and children without epilepsy. However, the rate of comorbidity was still high in children whose epilepsy was easier to manage.

The prevalence of all medical conditions was higher in children with epilepsy and almost 50% of the children with epilepsy had developmental or psychiatric difficulties. This figure was less than 10% for the general population.

Children with epilepsy are known to be at higher risk of other neurological disorders such as intellectual disability and autism, as well as developmental and psychiatric conditions. The present study is one of few nationwide studies assessing a broad range of medical conditions in children with epilepsy.

Author: Dr Özge Özkaya

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