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A new study has found that children with epilepsy can develop learning disorders later on even though they managed to keep their seizures in check. Researchers found that well-controlled epilepsy does not mean that the patient will be shielded from educational and social problems throughout adulthood.
Nevertheless, poor control of seizures is still an important factor that determines how well a kid fares into adulthood. But seizures are not the only factor that influences the social outcomes of adults that were diagnosed with the condition in childhood, scientists found.
The new study involved 241 kids and teens with epilepsy. Patients learned they had the condition between 1993 and 1997, and they were monitored for about 12 years. Of these participants, 39 percent eventually managed to keep their seizures in check and stay seizure-free for at least one year since the initial diagnosis.
About 30 percent had seizures from time to time but the medication helped them to stay in control of the situation, while eight percent struggled with recurrent seizures, and medications seemed to not help.
When they reached adulthood, participants that had the best seizure control did well in life. Over 90 percent were either employed or enrolled in college. By contrast, only 60 percent of patients with poor seizure control had a job or a college degree.
Furthermore, 90 percent of those that stayed seizure-free longer had also a driver’s license. But when epilepsy was tied to learning difficulties, patients had 50 percent more chances of not finding a job.
On the other hand, if epilepsy was coupled with emotional issues or psychiatric conditions such as depression, ADHD, or anxiety, patients had 60 percent lower chances of pursuing a college degree and were 50 percent less likely to live on their own regardless of seizure control.
The level of seizure control did not influence the likelihood of a patient to have troubles with the law enforcement either. If study participants were affected by behavioral disorders, their risk of having troubles with the law rose threefold.
Study authors think all children with epilepsy should be screened for behavioral or learning difficulties since seizure control does not guarantee a life without incidents.
Dr. Anne Berg., lead author of the study and professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said clinicians should not assume that children would do fine later in life just because they keep their seizures in check.
“Seizures really don’t tell the whole story,”
Dr. Berg also said.
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