thumbs-up-kid1In new research published at Medscape, it is shown that seizures themselves are not the main factor affecting the quality of life of young persons with epilepsy. There is so much social pressure that goes along with the diagnosis and symptoms of seizures whose effect can range from emotional, to psychological, and many patients also suffer other mental and physical health problems.

When it comes to quality of life, it’s not seizure severity or medication status that has the biggest effect on children with epilepsy but rather psychosocial factors, new research suggests.

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The results could have important implications for managing these young patients, researchers say.

“For children and youth with epilepsy, psychosocial factors such as parental and peer support as well as a child mental health should really be an area to focus on in daily clinical assessment,” said study author Gabriel Ronen, MD, professor, pediatrics, McMaster University, and pediatric neurologist, McMaster Children’s Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

“Potential targets for intervention need to reflect the child’s own perspectives rather than relying only on parental reports.”

Dr. Ronen presented this research at the Child Neurology Society (CNS) 2014 Annual Meeting.

Conflicting Evidence

According to background information in the report, epilepsy can have a biological and psychological impact on a child and can also affect the child’s social life. But until now, there has been conflicting evidence on how much the seizures themselves affect quality of life from the child’s point of view.

The study included 480 children (248 males and 232 females) aged 8 to 14 years from six tertiary centers across Canada who had an IQ of 70 or higher. These children had either sustained a seizure within the previous 2 years or were taking medication for seizure management.

The children completed eight health questionnaires during two visits. Researchers gathered information about the children’s mental health, cognition, and supports.

Of these children, 16% had simple partial seizures and 38% had complex partial seizures, 37% had primary or secondary tonic-clonic seizures, 31% had absence seizures, and 5% had myoclonic seizures.

At school, 67% of the study sample attended regular classes, 28% attended regular classes but with some partial assistance, and 5% were in fully modified classes.

As for seizure medication, 6% of the youngsters were not taking any, 71% took one medication; 17% took two medications, and 5% took more than two drugs.

Over half of the children (54%) had no medication failures, while 21% had failure of one medicine; in 23%, more than one drug had failed. Almost a third of the study sample (30%) used carbamazepine or oxcarbazepine and 29% were receiving valproate.