Children With Epilepsy Face Cognitive Impairment

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the Psychiatry Advisor take:

Children with epilepsy may face cognitive impairment due to neural networks that are not well integrated and white matter abnormalities, according to studies presented at the American Epilepsy Society’s (AES) 69th Annual Meeting.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California-Irvine studied 104 children with recent-onset epilepsy and 74 normally developing children to examine how cognitive milestones develop in children with epilepsy compared with healthy peers.

Graph analyses of cognitive tests administered at baseline and at 2 years suggested that neural networks linking various cognitive skills are not well integrated in children with epilepsy.

A second study from the University of Edinburgh and Scotland’s National Health Service explored the hypothesis that pre-existing abnormalities in white matter integrity are present in children with early-onset epilepsy who have cognitive impairment, but not in healthy children.  

Cognitive testing and MRIs of 17 children with a mean age of 32 months discovered abnormalities in the right inferior longitudinal fasiculus (ILF) white matter tract, which is thought to play an important role in object/face recognition, general cognitive ability, and processing speed, and has been implicated in autism. This may be the first evidence associating white matter abnormalities with reduced cognitive ability in children with early-onset epilepsy, according to Michael Yoong, PhD, lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.

In a third study, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine studied 33 children (8 to 17 years old) who were diagnosed with recent-onset epilepsy, and demonstrated that a brief computerized screening can be used to detect cognitive changes in children with epilepsy.

“Our study shows that brief computerized cognitive screening at the time of epilepsy diagnosis and shortly after initiation of treatment can help identify patients at elevated risk for cognitive difficulties,” said Megan Bone, a medical student at the University of Pittsburgh.

epilepsy
Study may be the first evidence associating white matter abnormalities with reduced cognitive ability in children with early-onset epilepsy.

Children with epilepsy face a number of challenges, including an increased risk of cognitive impairment.

That's the takeaway from three studies presented at the American Epilepsy Society's (AES) 69th Annual Meeting.

To explore how cognitive milestones develop in children with epilepsy compared with their healthy peers, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California-Irvine turned to techniques from a branch of mathematics known as graph theory in the first study.

The researchers administered a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests to 178 children ranging in age from eight to 18, including 104 children with new or recent-onset epilepsy and 74 of their normally developing cousins.

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