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Minerva Pediatrica 2018 December;70(6):501-12

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4946.17.04753-3


language: English

Pediatric epilepsy and psychiatric comorbidity: preliminary observational data from a prospective study

Michela GATTA 1, 2 , Alessia RAFFAGNATO 2, Stefania MANNARINI 3, Laura BALOTTIN 3, Irene TOLDO 2, Marilena VECCHI 2, Clementina BONIVER 2

1 Unit of Childhood Adolescence and Family, AULSS 6, Padua, Italy; 2 Department of Woman and Child’s Health, University of Padua, Padua, Italy; 3 Interdepartmental Center for Family Research, Department of Philosophy, Education and Applied Psychology, University of Padua, Padua, Italy

BACKGROUND: Several studies have confirmed psychiatric comorbidity and a worse quality of life in children with epilepsy, but the clinical assessment and monitoring of these patients often pays insufficient attention to their psychological aspects alongside their neurological issues. The present study aims to describe the distribution of psychopathologies and their clinical evolution over 18 months in a sample of children followed up since the onset of their epilepsy.
METHODS: After being diagnosed with epilepsy, 49 subjects (age 4-18 y) were followed up with psychiatric and psychological assessments based on the use of dimensional and categorical psychometric tools.
RESULTS: Baseline data (T0) showed a high psychiatric comorbidity in epileptic children, with a prevalence of anxious-depressive disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Specifically, generalized epilepsy, antiepileptic drug intake and more frequent seizures were associated with externalizing problems, while focal epilepsy was linked with anxiety disorders. The follow-up at 18 months revealed that about 90% of patients had achieved a reduction in the frequency and duration of their seizures, but their psychopathological assessment remained virtually unchanged. The patients’ psychological issues had warranted psychotherapy in 43% of cases.
CONCLUSIONS: When children or adolescents are diagnosed with epilepsy, their psychopathological profile should be investigated and monitored over time. Psychotherapy and/or psychopharmacological treatments should be offered to pediatric patients with epilepsy who suffer from emotional-behavioral disorders.

KEY WORDS: Epilepsy - Comorbidity - Child - Adolescent

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