The Association Between Childhood Seizures and Later Childhood Emotional and Behavioral Problems: Findings From a Nationally Representative Birth Cohort

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Abstract

Objectives

Emotional/behavioral disorders are often comorbid with childhood epilepsy, but both may be predicted by social disadvantage and fetal risk indicators (FRIs). We used data from a British birth cohort, to assess the association of epilepsy, single unprovoked seizures, and febrile seizures with the later development of emotional/behavioral problems.

Methods

A total of 17,416 children in the 1958 British birth cohort were followed up until age 16 years. Logistic and modified Poisson regression models were used to determine a) the association of social disadvantage at birth and FRI with epilepsy, single unprovoked seizures, and febrile seizures at 7 years, and emotional/behavioral disorders in later childhood, and (ii) the association of childhood seizures by age 7 years with emotional/behavioral disorders in later childhood, after accounting for social disadvantage and FRI.

Results

Higher scores on FRI and social disadvantage were associated with emotional/behavioral problems at 7, 11, and 16 years, but not with seizure disorders at age 7 years. Epilepsy was associated with emotional/behavioral problems at 7 years (odds ratio [OR] = 2.50, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.29–4.84), 11 years (OR = 2.00, 95% CI = 1.04–3.81), and 16 years (OR = 5.47, 95% CI = 1.65–18.08), whereas single unprovoked seizures were associated with emotional/behavioral problems at 16 years (OR = 1.44, 95% CI = 1.02–2.01), after adjustment for FRI and social disadvantage. Febrile convulsions were not associated with increased risk for emotional/behavioral problems.

Conclusions

Emotional/behavioral problems in children are related to an earlier diagnosis of epilepsy and single unprovoked seizures after accounting for social disadvantage and FRI, whereas febrile convulsions are not associated with emotional/behavioral problems.

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