Up to half of new cases of epilepsy are in children and adolescents. This is particularly significant because the onset of epilepsy in children can have a lasting impact on their cognitive development, says Philip Fastenau, a neurologist at Case Western Reserve's School of Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland.
Fastenau researched the relationship between a child's first seizure and his or her cognitive development in a study published in the journal Neurology.
Children who have normal IQs prior to the onset of epilepsy, he says, can develop problems with language, memory, learning and other cognitive skills. Children who had multiple seizures or used epilepsy drugs have an even higher risk for cognitive difficulties.
What was interesting, Fastenau says, is that his study showed that at the time of participants' first clinic visit-about three months after their first seizure-their academic achievement was unaffected.
"This suggests there is a window early in epilepsy for intervention to avoid hurting a child's performance at school," he says.
The study highlights the importance of testing children with epilepsy for cognitive problems soon after they are diagnosed to avoid issues that could plague them later in life.
Learn more about this research in the journal Neurology. www.neurology.org/