Age of Epilepsy Onset Linked to Cognitive Impairment

Half of preschool children with epilepsy have some degree of cognitive function retardation

FRIDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- Age of seizure onset may be a significant predictor of cognitive impairment in preschool children with epilepsy, according to a study published online May 13 in Epilepsia.

Kati Rantanen, from the University of Tampere in Finland, and colleagues assessed the frequency of cognitive impairment, level of cognitive functions, and epilepsy-related factors correlating with cognitive impairment in preschool children with active epilepsy. The medical records of 64 children, aged 3 years to 6 years 11 months, were used to extract medical data and results from prior psychological evaluations.

The investigators found that epilepsy prevalence was 3.2 per 1,000 children. Fifty percent of children with epilepsy had cognitive function within normal or borderline range, 22 percent had mildly retarded cognitive function, and 28 percent had moderately to severely retarded cognitive function. Complicated epilepsy, age at onset of epilepsy, abnormal magnetic resonance imaging, and additional neurologic problems were correlated with cognitive impairment. The only significant predictor of cognitive impairment was age at the onset of seizures.

"Early-onset epilepsy is a risk factor for cognitive impairment. Furthermore, the cognitive impairment can already be demonstrated during preschool years in children with relatively short duration of epilepsy," the authors write. "In clinical practice, we should pay more attention to early intervention to improve the subsequent cognitive and psychological outcomes of these children."

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