Psychopathology and Pediatric Complex Partial Seizures: Seizure-related, Cognitive, and Linguistic Variables


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Summary: Purpose: This study examined the role of cognition, language, seizure-related, and demographic variables in the psychopathology of children with complex partial seizure disorder (CPS) of average intelligence.

Methods: One-hundred one CPS and 102 normal children, aged 5.1 to 16.9 years, had a structured psychiatric interview and cognitive and language testing. Parents provided demographic, perinatal, and seizure-related information, as well as behavioral information through the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and a structured psychiatric interview about the child.

Results: Significantly more CPS patients had psychopathology, cognitive deficits, and linguistic deficits than did those in the normal group. Among the patients, Verbal IQ predicted the presence of a psychiatric diagnosis, as well as CBCL scores in the borderline/clinical range. Seizure, linguistic, and demographic variables were unrelated to psychopathology. The cognitive and linguistic deficits of the CPS group, however, were predicted by seizure factors (e.g., prolonged seizures/febrile convulsions; seizure frequency/number of antiepileptic drugs) and demographic factors (e.g., minority status).

Conclusions: Because subtle verbal cognitive deficits predict behavioral disturbances in pediatric CPSs, the study's findings highlight the importance of assessing behavior, cognition, and language in these children. They also underscore the negative impact of prolonged seizures, febrile convulsions, seizure frequency, and antiepileptic drug polytherapy on cognition and language in pediatric CPSs.