Longitudinal trajectories of behavior problems and social competence in children with new onset epilepsy

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Abstract

AIM

To characterize the prospective trajectory of parent-reported behavior and social competence problems in children with new or recent onset epilepsy from diagnosis to 5 to 6 years after diagnosis compared to healthy control participants.

METHOD

Thirty-five children (21 males, 14 females; mean age 14y 1mo [SD 3y 4mo] range 8–18y) with new/recent onset idiopathic generalized (IGE) and 34 children with localization-related epilepsies (LRE; 19 males, 15 females; mean age 10y 8mo [SD 2y 2mo] range 8–18y) underwent behavioral assessment (Child Behavior Checklist) at baseline, 2 years, and 5 to 6 years after diagnosis. The assessment comprised the summary scales Total Behavior Problems Internalizing Problems, Externalizing Problems, and Total Competence. Sixty-two children with normal development served as comparison participants. Analyses were based on random effects regression modeling comparing trajectories with respect to time since epilepsy diagnosis among groups.

RESULTS

Differences in parent-reported behavioral problems between LRE and IGE syndrome groups and healthy comparison participants were detectable at or near the time of diagnosis and remained either stable (competence) or tended to abate (behavior problems) over the ensuing 5 to 6 years without evidence of progressive worsening. These trends were evident for both LRE and IGE groups, with no differences between them.

INTERPRETATION

Behavior and competence problems in children with LRE and IGE are not characterized by progressive worsening over a 5- to 6-year period. Behavioral problems are present near the time of diagnosis and tend to abate over time, with competence problems being more persistent across serial assessments, and present in both LRE and IGE groups.

What this paper adds

This article is commented on by Ferro on pages 6–7 of this issue.

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