Even when seizures are well controlled, they are not the only consequence of epilepsy that can lead to social and educational issues when patients are young adults.
A study recently published in the journal Pediatrics found that children with epilepsy can still develop such problems regardless of how often they experience seizures.
“Frequency and intensity of seizures remain important predictors of how well a child does into adulthood. But, somewhat to our surprise we also found seizures are by no means the sole influencers of social and educational outcomes among adults with childhood epilepsy”, lead author Anne Berg said in a press release.
She is a scientist with the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Berg also is a teacher of pediatrics and neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Doctors attending cases of children with epilepsy should not assume they are doing fine because their seizures are well controlled, lead researcher said.
The research team observed the outcomes of 241 children and teenagers in Connecticut who were diagnosed with uncomplicated epilepsy between 1993 and 1997. On average, the participants were followed for 12 years.
Nearly 30 percent had intermittent seizures but in general responded to treatment, compared to 8 percent with recurrent, medication-resistant seizures. On the other hand, thirty-nine percent of the study participants had excellent seizure control and about 23 percent had good seizure control, with no seizures up to five years after having been diagnosed.
As young adults, more than 90 percent of those with excellent seizure control were seeking a college degree or had part-time or full-time jobs, compared with 60 percent of participants with recurrent seizures.
Compared with 60 percent of participants with drug-resistant seizures, more than 90 percent of those with good or excellent seizure control had a driver’s license, according to researchers.
The study also found that those epilepsy patients who had been experiencing learning problems were about 50 percent more likely to be unemployed.
Epilepsy’s other signals must be also monitored
But putting seizure control aside, study participants who had experienced behavioral, emotional or psychiatric conditions including depression, anxiety bipolar disorder or attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were 60 percent less likely to achieve a college degree and 50 percent less likely to be living by their own.
Frequency and intensity of seizures neither had an effect on their chances to get in trouble with the law. Participants with a history of disruptive behavioral disorders had three-time increased risk of trouble with the law.
Researchers remarked the importance to prevent problems later in life by monitoring all epilepsy patients for learning issues when they still are kids, regardless of their levels of seizure control.
Source: United Press International