Academic performance in children with rolandic epilepsy

Authors


* Correspondence to first author at Child Neuropsychiatry Unit, Filippo Del Ponte Hospital, 21100 Varese, Italy. E-mail: paolo.piccinelli@ospedale.varese.it

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency of reading, writing, and calculation disabilities in children with typical rolandic epilepsy (RE) and healthy control children. We also aimed to define the possible electroclinical markers of specific cognitive dysfunctions in RE. School abilities were evaluated and compared in 20 children (eight males, 12 females; mean age 10y 3mo [SD 1y 7mo]; range 7y 9mo-12y 9mo) consecutively diagnosed with typical RE, and a group of 21 healthy controls (nine males, 12 females; mean age 10y 4mo [SD 1y 8mo]; range 7y 6mo-13y 3mo). All the children received standardized neuropsychological tests. For each patient an exhaustive seizure diary was kept and all the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings were reviewed. Specific difficulties with reading, writing, and calculation (diagnosed according to the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition) were found in nine out of 20 children with RE and two out of 21 healthy controls (χ2=0.01). The specific learning disabilities in the RE group were correlated with a marked increase in epileptiform discharges during sleep (χ2=0.02) and an early onset of epilepsy (χ2=0.02). Our findings suggest that seizure onset before age 8 years and epileptiform discharges (more than 50% of the sleep EEG recording) in several tracings over more than a year are relevant markers for identifying patients at risk of developing academic difficulties.

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