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Antiepileptic drugs, cognitive function, and behavior in children

, : Antiepileptic drugs, cognitive function, and behavior in children. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine 56 Suppl Pt 1: S140-6; Discussion S147-9

In conclusion, it should be repeated that behavioral and cognitive functions in children with epilepsy, as in adults, represent the outcome of multifactorial processes. However, interest has been growing in the role of anticonvulsant drugs as an important variable. Studies in adults have clearly shown the impact of these drugs on both cognitive function and behavior, and the beneficial effects of achieving monotherapy, especially with carbamazepine, have been noted. Extrapolation of these results to children would seem reasonable, and there is some evidence in the literature to support this conclusion. Data in children, however, are complicated by several confounding factors. These include the status of the child under investigation; for example, children with a pre-existing behavior disorder appear to be more susceptible to developing grossly disturbed behavior with medications such as phenobarbital, as opposed to those who at pretreatment assessment do not display abnormalities. Mentally retarded children may be another group specifically susceptible to developing problems with medications. The effect of the anticonvulsant drug on seizure frequency is a complicating variable in interpretation of many investigations: in some patients improvement of seizures leads to improved behavior, while in others the opposite occurs. In some children, behavior exacerbations appear to be provoked by the sudden cessation of seizures, which may occur, for example, in forced normalization associated with barbiturates or benzodiazepines. Serum level monitoring is often not possible in childhood studies because of ethical considerations, and interpreting pharmacokinetic interactions from mere knowledge of orally prescribed agents is hazardous.


PMID: 2655989

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