Speech, language, and cognition in preschool children with epilepsy


* Correspondence to first author at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology/Department of Speech and Language Pathology, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Göteborg, Box 452, SE-405 30 Göteborg, Sweden. E-mail: gunilla.rejno-habte-selassie@vgregion.se


We studied expressive and receptive language, oral motor ability, attention, memory, and intelligence in 20 6-year- old children with epilepsy (14 females, six males; mean age 6y 5mo, range 6y–6y 11mo) without learning disability, cerebral palsy (CP), and/or autism, and in 30 reference children without epilepsy (18 females, 12 males; mean age 6y 5mo, range 6y–6y 11mo). Ten children had partial, six primarily generalized, and four unclassified epilepsy. Fourteen were having monotherapy and six were taking two or more antiepileptic drugs; 13 children were free from seizures 3 months before the assessment. Results show no statistically significant difference between the groups concerning Verbal IQ, expressive and receptive grammar, and receptive vocabulary. The children with epilepsy had a significantly lower Performance IQ and lower scores in tests of oral motor ability, articulation, emerging literacy, auditory attention, short-term memory, and rapid word retrieval. Parent ratings revealed no significant difference in communicative ability. Polytherapy and early onset of epilepsy influenced some results. Preschool children with epilepsy without learning disability, CP, and/or autism may have receptive verbal ability within the normal range but visuoperceptual, auditory attentional, and speech-language difficulties that could affect school achievement. Careful testing of children with epilepsy who appear to be functioning within the normal range is needed because this may reveal specific impairments that require appropriate professional input.