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Children who have epilepsy or febrile seizures may have increased risk for later neuropsychiatric conditions.

Neuropsychiatric conditions are mental disorders that are typically attributed to diseases that originate from the nervous system. These diseases greatly impair the health of those affected by them and impact their ability to learn, work, and emotionally cope.  Common neuropsychiatric disorders include seizures, attention deficits, cognitive deficits, palsies, uncontrolled anger, migraine headaches, addictions, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety and others. They can range widely in cause, course, and severity.

Epilepsy seems tied to greater risk than febrile seizures, and events in the first decade of life were tied to greater neuropsychiatric vulnerabilities in adolescence and adulthood.

Why does this matter

Authors of a recent study say that these associations are “more modest” than previously reported for some conditions.

What are the symptoms of neuropsychiatric disorders?

The key component of neuropsychiatric disorders is that the symptoms tend to impact brain function, emotion and mood. These can range from problems with focus and learning in the case of ADHD to sadness, irritability, memory problems, mood problems, depression to a variety of other psychiatric and/or neurological symptoms.

What are neuropsychiatric disorder care options?

Medications, psychological and/or psychiatric therapy are common treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders. Specific treatments will vary based on the precise cause, clinical presentation and severity.

Key results

  • With epilepsy, risk increased for (HRs; 95% CIs):
    • Any psychiatric disorder: 1.34 (1.25-1.44).
    • Schizophrenia spectrum disorders: 1.50 (1.26-1.78).
  • With febrile seizures, risk increased for:
    • Any psychiatric disorder: 1.12 (1.08-1.17).
    • Schizophrenia spectrum disorders: 1.23 (1.11-1.35).
  • With both, risk increases were:
    • Any disorder: 1.50 (1.28-1.75).
    • Schizophrenia spectrum disorders: 2.75 (2.03-3.73).
  • No increased risk for substance abuse disorders.
  • Febrile seizure-associated risks increased with number of events involving hospital contact.
  • Seizure etiology, onset type (i.e., focal vs generalized) did not change associations.

The study used a Danish registry of 1,291,679 individuals (43,148 febrile seizure history; 10,355 epilepsy; 1696 both), born January 1, 1978 through December 31, 2002 and was funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Danish Epilepsy Association along with some others.

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