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Psychiatric Symptoms More Common in Youth With Epilepsy

Multiple risk factors contribute to psychiatric symptoms, including gender differences

THURSDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Children with epilepsy (CWE) have a higher prevalence of psychiatric symptoms compared to their peers without epilepsy, according to a study published online March 29 in Epilepsia.

Kristin Ǻ. Alfstad, M.D., from the Oslo University Hospital in Norway, and colleagues compared the prevalence and impact of psychiatric symptoms in 110 CWE with age- and gender-matched controls. Data were collected from 14,699 parents of children aged 8 to 13 years (78 percent response rate) using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire-Parent report (SDQ-P). The correlation between SDQ scores and epilepsy, other chronic disease, age, gender, and socioeconomic status was analyzed.

The investigators identified a significantly higher frequency of psychiatric symptoms in CWE compared to controls (37.8 versus 17.0 percent). Borderline or abnormal SDQ scores were seen in 31.8 percent of CWE and 13.0 percent of controls. Current or past epilepsy was a stronger risk factor for developing psychiatric symptoms in girls than boys (odds ratio [OR], 4.2 and 2.3, respectively). In addition to epilepsy, other independent risk factors for developing psychiatric symptoms were male gender, low socioeconomic status, and having asthma or diabetes. Age was an independent risk factor only in girls aged 10 to 13 years (OR, 1.28). Girls with epilepsy had higher SDQ scores for emotional problems; whereas, boys with epilepsy had higher scores for hyperactivity or inattention problems and peer relationships.

"This population-based study provides further support regarding the high prevalence of psychiatric disorders in the epilepsy population. We find multiple risk factors contributing in a complex picture, also influenced by gender differences," the authors write.

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