Purpose: Studies have shown that underlying pathology and early onset of seizures are both significant factors contributing to cognitive impairment in children with epilepsy. However, there are only few studies focusing on cognitive impairment in preschool children with epilepsy. The purpose of this study was to describe the cognitive performance in a population-based cohort of preschool children with epilepsy. The aims of the study were to determine frequency of cognitive impairment, level of cognitive functions, and epilepsy-related factors correlating with cognitive impairment.
Methods: The study group consisted of a population-based cohort (N = 64) of preschool children (3–6 years 11 months) with active epilepsy. Medical data and results from previous psychological evaluations were reviewed retrospectively from the medical records. A logistic regression model was used for the prediction of cognitive impairment.
Key Findings: Prevalence of epilepsy was 3.2 per 1,000 children. Cognitive function was considered to be within normal or borderline range for 50%, mildly retarded for 22%, and moderately to severely retarded for 28%. Cognitive impairment was related to complicated epilepsy, age at onset of epilepsy, abnormal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and additional neurologic problems. Age at the onset of seizures was the only significant predictor of cognitive impairment.
Significance: The results concur with those of earlier studies on cognitive impairment in childhood epilepsy. Age at onset of epilepsy is also an important factor for cognitive impairment on young children with epilepsy. The results suggest that cognitive impairment is evident early in the course of epilepsy.